Hotel-like residence proposed for homeless Students, elderly also would live in facility

January 23, 1998|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday that he wants to build a hotel-like residence downtown for homeless people, the elderly and students.

The residence, modeled after a similar project in New York City, would provide city services, job training and health care. Residents, who would also include individuals who are mentally ill, are expected to use the facility as a stepping stone to VTC independent living or as a permanent residence.

"It would provide services and basic human needs," Schmoke said.

Advocates for the homeless said that such a facility is sorely needed in Baltimore.

"There's nothing out there for people. It's pathetic," said Bea Gaddy, an advocate for the homeless in East Baltimore.

She said it is important that such a shelter provide more services than a bed and meal, such as medical care and job training.

The residence is part of the mayor's mission to keep homeless people from walking the streets during the day. Most shelters send the homeless out in the morning and reopen in the evenings.

Schmoke is envisioning a building that would take in about 100 to 200 people. They would live in their own rooms with their own bathrooms and eating facilities. The city has one place like this called Paca House, but the homeless share kitchen and bathroom facilities there.

City leaders are looking to build or renovate a building downtown because of the large number of homeless people who congregate downtown.

Leslie Leitch, the city's director of Homeless Services, said that funding for the program would be a combination of existing federal grants and other government money. She said that the building could cost the city about $3 million to $5 million.

Pub Date: 1/23/98

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