Baltimore to receive $6.5 million from HUD to aid city homeless Part of $13 million grant being awarded to state

December 23, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Baltimore will receive about half of the $13 million in federal funds for homeless services that the federal Housing and Urban Development department awarded to the state yesterday.

The $6.5 million the city will receive from HUD is part of a larger national package of $865 million in assistance to homeless Americans, announced yesterday in Washington by Vice President Al Gore and Housing Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo. The sum is $1.3 million less than the $7.8 million the city received from HUD last year to fund programs for the homeless.

"Very seldom is homelessness just because of the lack of a roof over one's head," said city Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III. Contributing factors, he said, are often mental illness, drug addiction and domestic abuse or violence.

Henson and other city officials welcomed Kenneth C. Williams, a deputy assistant secretary of HUD, who traveled to Baltimore yesterday to deliver the news and visit My Sister's Place in the 100 block of W. Mulberry St., a shelter for 17 homeless women.

Most of the new federal funds will focus on programs serving women and children next year, said Leslie Leitch, the city's director of homeless services.

Leitch said that the $6.5 million would be directly channeled to about two dozen nonprofit service providers, such as Associated Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army and the YMCA of Central Maryland.

In other parts of Maryland, Baltimore County will receive a HUD "Continuum of Care" grant of $1.1 million for homeless assistance, while Anne Arundel and Howard counties were awarded $759,000 and $278,000, respectively.

Leitch estimated the city's homeless population at 3,000 on any given day -- regardless of season -- and that it affects about 18,000 people every year in Baltimore. Of those, she said, about one-third are women.

Yet, Leitch added, homeless women tend to be much more needy than homeless men, requiring a range of comprehensive services.

"Federal funds enable us to do more than cots in shelters," said Leitch, in the festive parlor of My Sister's Place, its fireplace adorned with holiday decorations. "They deserve the dignity of a home."

Next year's funds would help expand such "transitional housing" while women put their lives back together, she said. "We're trying to go out of the emergency business."

One resident, Janet Jackson, proudly displayed two figure sculptures she had made. "She's going to find her way back," Williams said.

The federal funds are also expected to offset the reduction of city funds for homeless services, recently cut from $270,000 to $170,000 per year.

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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