YWCA to vacate homeless shelter

New operator sought for Balto. County facility

June 04, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Noting a shortage of funds, the YWCA of Greater Baltimore said yesterday that it can no longer afford to run its 33-bed family homeless shelter in the 12000 block of Reisterstown Road, one of two homeless shelters for families in the county.

Baltimore County officials said they plan to keep the shelter open, that none of the more than 30 residents will be put out on the street and that they will find another operator after the YWCA vacates the county-owned property at the Hannah More complex June 30.

"We're in the process of looking for a replacement to operate that facility on an interim basis while we find a permanent operator," said Maureen Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Department of Social Services.

Robinson said YWCA officials told the county in a letter about a month ago that they could no longer afford to operate both the Reisterstown Road shelter and its 24-bed family shelter in Arbutus.

The county has since been looking for a church group or shelter agency to operate the facility, Robinson said. She said it is badly needed.

"The shelters are always full, and people are always waiting to get in," Robinson said. "We can use every bed we can fund."

Rosalyn Branson, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Greater Baltimore, said the agency needs $65,000 more than is available to run both the Reisterstown Road facility and the Arbutus shelter it owns in the 4000 block of Southwestern Blvd.

"The funds are just not out there," Branson said.

Baltimore County, which funds about half of the YWCA's annual budget for homeless services, had pledged to give the agency $425,000 to run the two shelters during the fiscal year that begins July 1, Robinson said.

Because the YWCA is vacating the Reisterstown Road site, the county will give the agency $134,000 to run the Arbutus shelter, the smaller of the two, she said.

The $291,000 balance of shelter funding, which would have been available to the YWCA to run both shelters, will be used to pay another shelter provider, such as Nehemiah House, Hearth House or Associated Catholic Charities, to take over the shelter.

Yesterday's announcement upset residents at the shelter.

"It's a terrible feeling," said Jean Campbell, 27.

Campbell, a mother of eight whose children live with relatives, had spent four years going from one city shelter to another before she came to the county shelter a month ago.

"There's more togetherness here than in other places," she said.

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