Light House gets grant for expansion

Shelter gets $575,000 from Kresge Foundation

February 07, 2010|By Nicole Fuller | nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

The Light House homeless shelter in Annapolis has received a grant of more than a half-million dollars, its largest gift for the construction of a larger and more comprehensive center planned to open in the fall.

The Kresge Foundation has provided a $575,000 grant to the shelter, with $425,000 for the construction project and $150,000 going toward the operating budget.

"We are honored to be awarded a grant of this size from an internationally renowned foundation," said Elizabeth Kinney, president of the Light House board of directors and co-chair of the capital campaign. The Kresge Foundation awarded 342 grants totaling $181 million in 2008.

The new Light House Homeless Prevention and Support Center will house four facilities in a 24,000-square-foot building at 10 Hudson St. in Annapolis.

The building will house an emergency shelter, including beds for 30 men and 15 women; transitional housing in the form of family apartments for five adults and 20 children; a resource and support center offering education, job training and life skills; and a day center for the chronically homeless.

The shelter is currently in a building on West Street, a location that the shelter has outgrown. There are more than 300 people on a waiting list.

The shelter has beds for 17 men and six women, said Howard Dunkley, the shelter's program manager. Residents are required to vacate the shelter from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. to seek work or attend jobs. The shelter also offers services to nonresidents, including serving lunches to hundreds of people daily and helping those struggling financially to deal with utilities like BGE, allowing people who are having difficulty paying their bill an extension to avoid service disruption.

One recent recipient of the shelter's services was a former chef at a high-end restaurant who was earning $150,000 annually before being laid-off.

"The need is great, especially with the economy," said Dunkley.

The Light House has received a $1.2 million state grant toward its new facility, and about $6 million of its needed $8.2 million for construction has come from donations from businesses, organizations, religious groups and individuals.

Anne Arundel County is putting $250,000 toward Light House construction over three years and the city of Annapolis has donated $500,000.

Light House is the only shelter in Anne Arundel County serving adults and children 365 days a year. Other shelters in Anne Arundel are the Arundel House of Hope in the Glen Burnie area, run by ministerial organizations that also operate emergency shelters during cold weather; and Sarah's House, operated by Catholic Charities on Fort Meade, mostly for women and children. In cold winter months, other churches provide emergency shelter.

Designed by the Baltimore architectural firm of Cho Benn Holback & Associates Inc., the new building will include many energy-efficient features, such as geothermal heat and a reflective roof.

The construction company, Hammel Construction, has hired three of the shelter's residents to work on the building.

"That kind of partnering is our future," said Kinney.

Rusty DiGirolomo, 33, a former Edgewater resident, became homeless after a stint in jail for selling heroin. A former user, too, he said he's been clean from drugs for seven months.

Not long after his arrival at the Light House, he was hired to work on the construction project.

"I've been here for four days, and they found me a job," DiGirolomo said recently. "I found out if you're honest about your record, they'll work with you."

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