City nonprofit loses its headquarters in fire

Jobs, Housing and Recovery at temporary location after Nov. fire on Oliver Street

December 16, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

An outreach organization that has helped Baltimore's neediest for a decade has found itself without a headquarters after a recent fire.

Jobs, Housing and Recovery Inc., a nonprofit that oversees homeless shelters as well as job training and rehabilitation programs, lost its administrative offices on East Oliver Street to a two-alarm fire Nov. 28.

"Now we are a homeless provider without a permanent home," said Meg Ducey, development director. "We are reaching out to the community for assistance. We know we have to rebuild from scratch"

The blaze, which is under investigation, destroyed computers, records, office furniture and supplies at what is the hub of JHR's operations. From the office, a three-story building that was once a cigar factory, JHR serves about 400 people daily.

Administrators are unsure whether they will rebuild the building on Oliver Street, which JHR owns. The building and contents were insured and the organization is awaiting word from its insurer before making any decisions.

"Fortunately, no one was hurt," said Linda Boyer, executive director. "The buildings on either side were not damaged. We can definitely rebuild, but it will take significant time."

The staff has relocated to a temporary space on Light Street, where workers are sharing space with one of their own programs. The crowded quarters are challenging, Ducey said. The staff of nine has gone from 3,000 square feet to less than a quarter of that space, but the workers are still directing shelter, job training and rehabilitation programs.

"We didn't miss a beat," she said. "Our services have continued seamlessly."

Those programs include a 350-bed homeless shelter and a recovery and training project for 66 people in long-term rehabilitation.

The fire also destroyed furniture, bedding and linens, which JHR provides its clients as they move into permanent housing.

"At this point, we have to replace everything, even our files," Boyer said. "We have a consultant trying to retrieve information from our server."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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