City gets $7.8 million from HUD to help homeless residents 104 beds to be added

state receives total of $15.2 million

September 14, 1996|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Homeless people will soon have more places to lay their heads in Baltimore because of $7.8 million in grants awarded by the federal government yesterday.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced was giving city homeless programs the money to pay for 104 new beds at shelters and more services to help people find permanent homes.

In all, HUD awarded Maryland $15.2 million in grants for homeless programs.

"This is wonderful," said Steve Baron, president of Baltimore Mental Health Systems, a non-profit organization that manages the city's mental health system. He said the organization will use its share of the grant money, $1.4 million, to field a team of nurses and social workers to help get mentally ill people off the streets and into treatment.

"These funds will help us continue, and in some cases, expand NTC services to our homeless citizens," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, whose office coordinated the application for funds.

The money awarded to Baltimore was a tiny fraction of the $675 million the Clinton administration announced yesterday in its annual disbursement of funds to fight homelessness.

The money will finance about 1,000 projects across the country.

The grants come less than eight weeks before the Nov. 5 election and were announced by Vice President Al Gore and HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros.

L Last year, the administration made them public in late July.

Cisneros said that politics played no role in the event's timing.

Instead, he attributed the delay to time lost during last winter's shutdown of the federal government and unusually late appropriation of the money this year.

"Any suggestion that we would rush the applications or hold them until close to the election is off base," he said.

In Baltimore, some of the money will pay to renovate building space and provide more beds for the mentally ill.

My Sister's Place Lodge is a Catholic Charities' program downtown that provides 17 beds for mentally ill women as they search for a permanent place to live.

The organization will use its $514,000 grant to open a new unit with 12 more beds.

"There are times that we turn people away and this program is going to allow us to serve some more folks," said Mary Lee Bradyhouse, director of homeless services for Catholic Charities the Baltimore area.

Catholic Charities will use a second grant of $477,000 to increase the number of beds from 32 to 44 at the Christopher Place Employment Program, said Bradyhouse.

Christopher Place provides job training, an addiction support group and other services to help homeless people find work.

Another $1.7 million will fund staffing and training for an existing computer network that allows people to electronically check for bed space at most of the city's homeless shelters, said Mike Berning, program administrator for the Mayor's Office of Homeless Services.

Pub Date: 9/14/96

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