Crisis center moving, for now

Grassroots is going to Ellicott City while new facility is built

September 22, 2006|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,sun reporter

While a new, larger Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center is under construction, Howard County's primary homeless shelter will move to a two-story cottage on the grounds of the former Taylor Manor Hospital in Ellicott City.

Andrea Ingram, director of Grassroots, a private nonprofit agency, said the move likely will occur about Oct. 20, a week after the groundbreaking for the new, expanded shelter next to Atholton High School. Demolition of the current building should begin in November, and the new 55-bed building should be completed in a year.

"October is going to be pretty busy," Ingram said.

The County Council is set to vote Oct. 3 on a $1.8 million construction loan from Howard County government to allow construction to begin on the $5.5 million, 23,000-square-foot building on Freetown Road, while donation pledges are coming in.

The former Taylor Manor hospital is part of the Sheppard Pratt system, but the land and buildings are owned by the Taylor family, said Dr. Bruce Taylor.

"We're happy to make space available for them," he said, adding, "We have a variety of group homes on the campus already."

Leasing space to the 32-bed homeless shelter is "compatible with the zoning we have," Taylor said.

The temporary quarters will not house the mobile crisis team or administrative staff members, who will operate from a county-owned house on Vollmerhausen Road, Ingram said.

Ingram and Taylor said they do not expect criticism from the hospital's neighbors.

"There really aren't even any residences close to us," Ingram said. The campus is off College Avenue, atop a large hill behind Ellicott City's Main Street.

Grace Kubofcik, a co-chairwoman of the county's League of Women Voters who lives less than a mile from the hospital campus, said she has no objections to the move. "I think that's fabulous. I don't think people would even blink an eye," she said.

Len Berkowitz, president of the Ellicott City Business Association, also is satisfied. "They do a good job," he said about Grassroots, explaining that he lives near the current location and has never known of a problem.

Ingram said transportation will be a problem for residents because Howard Transit buses do not stop at Taylor Manor, though they stop at the current Grassroots location. She said a 12-passenger van that the shelter owns will be used as an hourly shuttle to get residents to the nearest bus stop, on Main Street.

Getting volunteers to continue donating food and materials at the new, more remote location, and finding new volunteers, will add to the challenge, she said. The cottage is getting a new bathroom with two showers for the male residents, along with kitchen improvements.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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