Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ending Homelessness in Howard County, 2015 Edition (Thursday LINKS)

County Executive Allan Kittleman has officially endorsed the plan to build a homeless shelter and resource center at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 32, reports Amanda Yeager with the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times.  This project was originally put forward by Ken Ulman in 2013 after the Beachcrest site was scrapped in favor of a more ambitious multi-use center near the site of the current Route One Day Center.

As with just about any project to address and ameliorate poverty, there is resistance among some of the nearby community members.  And I want to say up front that it is the obligation of those of us who support plans like this to engage those concerns.  Not all concerns can be resolved and some, respectfully, are based on unfounded stereotypes, but when you are talking about someone's home, someone's neighborhood, you had best tread lightly.  Ideals, aspirations, and civic-mindedness fall short when you are talking about your fellow community-member's concerns about safety.

The fact of the matter is that this project will improve the homeless situation that already exists in Savage/Laurel.  As reported by Blair Ames in 2013:

"The majority of homeless surveyed this year are staying in North Laurel and Savage area, according to Vidia Dhanraj, coordinator of community partnerships with the Department of Citizen Services."

The most significant resource for those who are without reliable shelter is the Route One Day Resource Center, located a literal stone's throw away from the proposed site.  For all intents and purposes, the skeletal parts of this project already exist, yet are scattered across 10 square miles.

As for safety and general concerns about the neighborhood, it is important to keep in mind that this is not a passive shelter.  This is not a building that put up a "homeless shelter" plaque and called it a day.  These 30 efficiency apartments will be paired with case management services and other resources to help reintegrate them into productive society.  We can't use our experience with out-dated homeless services to interpret what this new center will provide.  Rather, this project will likely set the standard for other projects across the state.

Sadly, even with this new center, Howard County will still have homeless men and women living outdoors.  But this is a monumental step forward when you consider that Grassroots provided the only reliable emergency housing in the County.


I love this headline "Martin O'Malley Has Written a Book".  It seems to communicate both surprise and resignation at the same time.

The Maryland General Assembly opened session yesterday and The Sun has a great picture of both Larry Hogan and Anthony Brown giving their best "This guy right here" pose.  It is great to see things start with a bipartisan tone (whatever that means), but I think such imagery could have been presumed.  With the loss of moderate Democrats, the introduction of a Republican Governor, and the absence of any apparent "bipartisan issues", I think we may be in for a long game of tug-of-war.

Luke Lavoie writes about Howard County's preparations for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  I'm looking for a good service event to participate in on the 20th, so please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Andrew Sullivan's The Dish looks at free speech in France and what happens when all the Je Suis's fall away.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: I appreciated Julia's contrast of two proposed developments in Howard County and think you will too.

That's all for today.  Have a great Thursday doing what you love!