Baltimore County News
Part of statewide effort to strengthen services
Baltimore County has joined a statewide effort to contact and survey young people who are homeless or struggling with serious housing issues. The statewide effort, known as Youth Reach Maryland, has engaged 10 regional partners and seeks to strengthen knowledge of and services to youth under age 25 who are not living with a parent or guardian and face an unstable housing situation that may be viewed as homelessness. The County's effort to contact this constituency will continue through April 2.
The County Department of Planning and the non-profit Baltimore County Communities for the Homeless (BCCH) are leading the County effort, working closely with service providers and institutions, including soup kitchens, homeless shelters, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The County and its partners have assembled a network of people, including youth ambassadors, who will visit key locations, reach out and survey the select youth population over the two-week period.
Homeless youth may often go uncounted
Advocates for the homeless believe that independent youth and young adults under age 25 who are struggling with housing are often a hidden population that goes uncounted. Youth Reach Maryland seeks to improve the count and deepen knowledge of a unique, challenging constituency.
Maryland's effort to improve outreach to homeless youth began in 2013, when the legislature made it a priority to improve the frequency and accuracy of counting the state's unaccompanied homeless youth. It established the Task Force to Study Housing and Supportive Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, which recommended a Youth and Young Adult Count of Unaccompanied Homeless. This later became the initiative known as Youth REACH (Reach out, Engage, Assist, & Count to end Homelessness) MD. The state effort is now led by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and coordinated by the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Learn more about Youth REACH Maryland
Those interested in learning more about Baltimore County's Youth Reach effort are encouraged to contact Terri Kingeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the following web links:
Youth Reach Maryland: http://www.youthreachmd.com/
Get An Orgnic Free-Range Chicken for You and One to Share
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz helped provide a very special chicken lunch to clients of the County’s Westside Shelter this afternoon. The chicken came from one of the first deliveries of poultry raised at the County’s Maryland Agriculture Center and Farm Park in Cockeysville, through a community-supported agriculture program that provides farming education while helping those in need.
“I congratulate our County staff and partners for coming up with this dual-purpose program that helps teach people the value of farming, and, at the same time, provides much-needed food for hungry people,” said Kamenetz. “This is the kind of smart, innovative thinking that turns problems into solutions.”
A Poultry Partnership
The County departments of Planning and Recreation and Parks partnered with the non-profit organizations, Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) and Community Assistance Network (CAN) to develop this innovative program that combines social responsibility with agricultural education. Poultry for the People enables anyone to purchase a free-range organic chicken, raised at the 149-acre Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, and have a second chicken donated to help feed individuals in Baltimore County homeless shelters.
A Chicken for You and One to Share
The non-profit Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) offers a “buy one-gift one” purchase plan where anyone can purchase a chicken for themselves and one will be donated to a Baltimore County homeless shelter. Purchasers also receive a tax deduction for the majority of the purchase price. Prices and details are available on the MARC website.
Money raised through the sale of the chickens is used to help fund education programs at the farm park as well as at the County’s homeless shelters. The addition of chickens to the farm also serves to enhance existing educational programs and the overall farm experience of visitors to the park.
“It’s a win-win-win-win” says Richard Watson, President of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC). “We get to expand farming operations, enhance our educational capacity, connect people to agriculture in a meaningful way, and provide homeless shelters with a consistent source of high-quality protein.”
A fundraising campaign sponsored by MARC on the Kickstarter web site raised $8,000 to cover the infrastructure necessary to care for the chickens including a 4-ton feeder bin, bringing water and electricity to the coop, and making the coop as fox-proof as possible.
Program Offers Nutrition Boost for Homeless Shelter Residents
Protein represents the largest component of any shelter’s food budget. For the balance of the menu, shelters rely on donations made by local churches and other charitable organizations, grocery stores, food pantries, restaurants and bakeries. While the shelters strive to provide well-balanced meals, the donation-based food supply makes meal planning difficult. Chefs work with what they have and are often forced to stretch meals by adding bread, rice or noodles.
Baltimore County Homeless Shelter Administrator, Terri Kingeter explains, “I am excited about the potential of this program to significantly enhance the overall quality of food being served at the homeless shelters. The protein provided by the Poultry for the People program will free up each shelter’s food budget which will help management purchase more fresh produce. We also cannot wait to engage our shelter youth, who comprise 27% of the shelter population, in hands-on experiential learning activities at the shelter and at the farm.”
Includes Expanded Homeless and Transitional Shelters
Dozens of homeless advocates and health service providers cheered this morning as Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz led a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the official start of construction for a much needed replacement for the County’s Eastern Family Resource Center (EFRC).
The new $26 million, 80,000 square-foot, three-floor facility will replace the outdated Eastern Family Resource Center. Both are located on the campus of Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center. The new building is anticipated to open the spring of 2017.
“The reality is, the homeless among us are not simply strangers down on their luck—they are somebody’s father, somebody’s sister, somebody’s child,” said Kamenetz. “We must recognize them not as strangers, but as neighbors. And we must acknowledge the fact that, at any moment, things could fall apart in our own lives, and it could be us seeking shelter or living on the street.”
The County is funding $16 million of the cost of the new facility, with Medstar Health providing $5 million in support, along with a commitment of $5 million from the State of Maryland. The architect is Chris Parts of Hord-Coplan-Macht and the building contractor is CAM Construction.
Baltimore County and MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center negotiated a land swap whereby the land housing the current Eastern Family Resource Center will be incorporated into the hospital campus. MedStar gave the County a 3.9-acre parcel of property, about a block away from the current center, which is currently being used for hospital staff parking.
Expanded Shelter Operations
The current Eastern Family Resource Center houses a shelter for women and families, as well as an array of programs operated through the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services. The new facility will add two homeless shelters (men’s and transitional) and provide space for Healthcare for the Homeless.
“This facility will be so much more than mere brick and mortar to this community,” said Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “Some will call it home, while others will view it as a place to receive medical care. But we all will see it as a beacon of hope, health and healing.”
The new Eastern Family Resource Center will include three shelter operations, including an enhanced shelter for women and families, serving up to 250 persons; a transitional shelter program for women and families, with a capacity of up to 38 persons; and a new shelter for men, with a capacity of up to 50 persons. The expanded center supports the County’s 10-Year Plan to Prevent and Reduce Homelessness.
The women and family shelter will have separate sleeping spaces for single women and families, as well as sleeping spaces for men that utilize the shelter as part of a family and for single dads with their children. The shelter will include child care and child development space, as well as an outdoor play area for children. Programming will be enhanced as a result of space designed for workshops and educational activities. The shelter will also allow for enhanced program collaboration with the addition of flexible office space for partnering agencies.
For those families that require additional time to meet the goal of self-sufficiency, a third floor transitional shelter is included in the design. This shelter will house approximately 38 persons, with each family housed in a private sleeping room, with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities.
Expansion of Health Services
The new building will also allow the County to expand health services to persons who are homeless through its partnership with Health Care for the Homeless (HCH). Expanded space for HCH will allow them to increase the capacity and scope of services to homeless persons in Baltimore County, including expanded primary care, behavioral health and supportive services.
The new building will allow the Department of Health to meet the growing needs of the community in a space that is thoughtfully designed for enhanced program collaboration. The building will house multiple Health Department functions, including Family Planning, Dental Services, the Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program, Immunizations, Substance Abuse Treatment, a Sexually Transmitted Infections clinic and the Infants and Toddlers Program.
Westside Men’s Shelter Opened this July
This past July, the County Executive also opened a new 54-bed, $3.4 million shelter homeless shelter for men that incorporates functional amenities to better help residents receive the services they need and work toward independent living. The facility is operated and staffed by Community Assistance Network.