Homeless shelter in Rosedale to close

Baltimore County scrambles to find housing for 55 men

May 28, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County officials have found housing for the 55 men to be displaced by the closing next week of a shelter for the homeless in Rosedale.

Nehemiah House, the only shelter for homeless men in eastern Baltimore County, will shut down for a month beginning Tuesday, President Bart Pierce wrote this week in a letter to county homeless services coordinator Sue Bull.

The shelter, which has been operated by Rock City Church in Towson for nearly 19 years, gave residents a week to make other arrangements. Bull said the county community services staff arrived at work Monday to find phone messages from homeless men panicked about where they would stay after this weekend.

Bull said she did not receive Pierce's letter until Wednesday.

"There was an incredible effort of numerous community organizations this week to get these men placed," she said. By Friday, she said, they all had places to stay.

A woman who answered the telephone at Rock City Church on Friday said there would be no comment on the closing. County officials say the church would not discuss its plans for the building on Philadelphia Road in Rosedale or commit to reopening the shelter on July 1.

In the letter, Pierce wrote that the Nehemiah House board of directors had decided to renovate the shelter, including "addressing any remaining bed bug issues," and review its management.

"We believe that doing this is a great step, and this will allow us to enter into our 20th year of service with a fresh outlook, a new perspective, and an upgraded facility to benefit many homeless men for decades to come," Pierce wrote.

The county's annual census this year counted 25 percent more people living without a permanent home. More live in the eastern county than in any other area, with 36 percent of those people in Dundalk, Essex and Rosedale.

The county maintains several family shelters. The only other shelter for men is in the western county.

The county funds half the beds at Nehemiah House, according to county officials, and other organizations, such as the Veterans Administration, pay for other slots.

County Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, who represents the eastern county, expressed concern for the displaced men.

"This shelter had done a great job for years now, but where will these men go now?" he asked. "Many of them can get back on their feet once they have temporary housing."

Bartenfelder has made homelessness an issue in his campaign for county executive.

"A week is too fast a turnaround; even 30 days would not be enough time," he said. "There are already tent cities in this area, and no doubt some of these men will end up in one of them."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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