Project to house homeless men plans opening by end of year City approves $500,000, last installment on funds

August 08, 1996|By Marilyn McCraven | Marilyn McCraven,SUN STAFF

An $8.6 million development designed to house formerly homeless men is to open near Lexington Market by the end of the year, city officials and developers say.

The long-awaited Paca House in the 100 block of N. Paca St. is the latest addition to a growing number of single-room occupancy projects, or SROs, operated in the city by private, nonprofit groups.

"Twenty years ago, it's what people would have called a boarding house," said Ann Ciekot, deputy director of Action for the Homeless, a statewide advocacy group. "It provides the type of affordable rooms that were demolished" with the development of new downtown office buildings and hotels.

Yesterday, the city Board of Estimates approved $500,000 for the project, the final installment of $2 million in federal block grant funds for construction costs and social service programs.

The project has received $1.5 million in grants from the state and the rest is to come from private sources, including a syndicate of investors who will receive federal tax credits in return, housing officials said.

Construction began in the spring and is to be completed by Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse by late December.

The city was awarded the federal money in 1992 through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program for the homeless, said Donna Keck, the city's director of special needs and replacement housing.

Associated Catholic Charities backed out as the developer when the housing department couldn't guarantee to provide $1 million in a year for social service programs, said Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III. Now, the city has the money, which will be used over five years, Henson said.

The city has found another nonprofit developer for the project, Volunteers of America Chesapeake. Catholic Charities officials could not be reached for comment.

The 45,000-square-foot complex will be in one new building and two renovated city-owned buildings at 106-120 N. Paca St. The renovated buildings, a vacant firehouse and a warehouse, will contain 106 units, including about 30 efficiency apartments and 76 single rooms.

The new building, being constructed on what once was a vacant lot, will be flanked by the renovated buildings; it is to contain offices for managers and social service programs. Rents will be $303 a month for single rooms with access to a communal kitchen and $404 a month for efficiencies, city officials said.

Preference will be given to elderly homeless men for the efficiency units, said William McKemey, VOA Chesapeake's president and chief executive officer.

Residents, mostly referred by local agencies, may stay indefinitely in the housing complex. However, those who want to get jobs and move to other housing will receive help, McKemey said.

Struever Brothers must complete the project this year for investors to be eligible for certain tax credits, housing authority officials said.

Other SRO facilities include Holden Hall, operated by Catholic Charities; The Calverton on 25th Street, run by the Women's Housing Coalition; and Harford House, in the 1500 block of E. North Ave., operated by the nonprofit Govans Ecumenical Development Corp., Ciekot said.

Baltimore has 2,000 homeless people each day, according to city government estimates.

"There's really no place for these people to go," said Chuck Williams, executive director of Maryland Homeless Veterans Inc. He has a waiting list for his 200-unit East Baltimore building.

Pub Date: 8/08/96

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