300 Abingdon residents oppose homeless shelter at meeting

October 24, 2003|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

Three hundred Abingdon residents vowed last night to stand together against a homeless shelter that is set to open in their neighborhood in December.

Their meeting at Edgewood High School was led by a calm but defiant state Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican who lives in the Long Bar Harbor community where the shelter will be located.

"It doesn't have to be a done deal," Jacobs said to loud applause from the men, women and children in the audience. "I am going to work for every person ... to make sure this isn't a done deal."

She noted that the house would need renovations before opening. "There will have to be building permits," she said with a smile. "There are a few of us up here who know folks in building permits."

Harford is the only county in the Baltimore metropolitan area without a permanent shelter. Last year, a shelter site in Joppa was vehemently opposed by residents and the plans were dropped.

Jacobs noted last night that several Joppa residents had offered to help organize the Long Bar Harbor community to fight.

The Abingdon home, which will shelter eight men, was bought by Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United, a nonprofit group comprising Harford churches, civic groups and government agencies that was formed four years ago to find a site for a permanent shelter.

It would provide transitional shelter for two years for men who are working or have disability income. They will be screened and supervised by the FCCAU, and pay rent and keep up the house and yard, the group has said.

The FCCAU moved to purchase houses after the plan to build an emergency and transitional shelter on a 10-acre parcel in Joppa was scuttled.

"We believe everybody needs a place to start," said Lenett Finkle, who lives near Long Bar Harbor.

"Not in our community, though, I'm sorry," added her neighbor Kelly Hopkins.

"We have a lot of young children in our community," Hopkins said. "That's not the way it's going to be. It's definitely not going to happen in our neighborhood."

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