Baltimore County Now
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The new $26 million, 80,000 square-foot, three-floor facility will replace the outdated Eastern Family Resource Center.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.
Wellness Center Offers Fitness and Health Assessments
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that the County’s employee wellness program has been expanded to include an employee wellness center in the Historic Courthouse in Towson.
This center is open to all County employees and offers treadmills with computer desks, and a health tracking station so employees can privately measure their blood pressure, weight and body mass index (BMI), and follow their results over time.
De-Stress or Walk While You Work
“The expectation is that employees everywhere need to be more productive than ever, and having access to a treadmill with a desktop computer gives our people the opportunity to walk while they work, or visit on their lunch break to de-stress,” said Kamenetz. “We all are busier than ever in our work and personal lives, so where better to grab your half-hour of cardio than at work?”
The treadmill desks were donated by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company as part of a public-private partnership. “To create a culture of health in the workplace, we encourage employers to evaluate ways that wellness programs can meet the needs of different groups of employees,” said Julia Huggins, president, Cigna MidAtlantic. “I applaud Baltimore County Government as they continue to make workforce wellness a priority with this new wellness center.”
Employee Wellness is an Ongoing County Priority
“Most County employees are here for the long term and we want to do what we can to help them feel good and stay healthy,” Kamenetz added.
The new wellness stations are part of a wide-ranging employee wellness initiative that includes:
- wellness stations with treadmill desks
- “Lunch and Learn” workshops on nutrition, health and stress reduction topics
- an online activity challenge
- an annual health fair
- annual biometric screening opportunities
- generous sick leave and vacation benefit packages
- a monthly “Wellnotes” newsletter
- on-site weight loss support groups
- an Employee Assistance Program and workshops
- smoking cessation programs
Fitness Support for Our First Responders
The Baltimore County Fire Department provides physical fitness equipment at each fire station throughout the County. The department encourages first responders to use the equipment to enhance muscle strength and endurance so they can execute emergency tasks efficiently and safely. The Department is also creating a peer fitness program, endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters and International Association of Fire Chiefs. Through this program, trained volunteers on staff will serve as fitness resources for those on their shifts and guide their peers on fire and EMS oriented exercise programs, nutrition, mental health, and other health and safety initiatives.
Since 2009, the Baltimore County Police Department has encouraged its officers to maintain a healthy lifestyle through a physical fitness program. Officers that participate in the program are tested annually. Officers that pass the test are given a certificate and a fitness award pin that can be worn on the uniform.
Major Transportation Link Supports Economic Development
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz today cut a ceremonial ribbon to officially open Campbell Boulevard Phase 2, a major transportation link from Route 40 to Bird River Road that will, in coming years, help connect White Marsh Boulevard to Philadelphia Road, improve traffic flow and support economic development in an already expanding area.
“This one-mile section of new road is a major infrastructure addition for the community and the County. It will relieve congestion at key intersections – such as Middle River Road and Route 40 – and provide greater access for residents and business,” Kamenetz said.
The new section of roadway, which was officially opened at today’s 11 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony, was built in three stages beginning in the spring of 2014. The completed Phase 2 is three lanes wide and cost $6.8 million for engineering, land acquisition and construction. It is just under one mile long, and includes a 220-foot long bridge over White Marsh Run, 3,000 feet of water main and sidewalks.
Campbell Boulevard will run for three miles when the full scope of the plan is realized. The project will include three bridges, water utilities, improved storm water management, sidewalks and numerous intersection improvements.