Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homeless in Howard County

       Last Sunday the Baltimore Sun highlighted the fact that many people using the Cold Weather Shelter program are young people and families with children. Grassroots operates the shelter in partnership with religious congregations in Howard County. As the Grassroots website explains:

"The cold weather shelter is a partnership with the faith community and Howard County government which provides overflow shelter from November through March. Congregations host the shelter for one or two weeks and provide volunteers for transportation, meals, laundry and to work shifts in the shelter. Grassroots provides administrative coordination and a staff person to act as the team leader during the hours that the shelter is open.  For more information on the Cold Weather Shelter program, please contact Anna Katz, the CWS Coordinator at 410-531-6006 or"

     The Sun story reported that over 200 students attending Howard County schools are classified as being homeless and eligible for transportation to their home school even if they are now temporarily living out of district or even out of the County.  Somehow most people's image of a homeless person is a man with an addiction sleeping or panhandling on the street in Baltimore.  Certainly not a child who is attending a school with your child or the family that lived next door to you until recently.

      What for most of us was a  recession was a depression for many Howard County families barely making it in normal times. Over 7,600 families in Howard County, about 10% of all families, have a income under $25,000 a year according to the Howard County Self Sufficient Index Report released last year. The Report also indicates that in the past 4 years the number of County residents applying for food stamps has increased by 146% and the same increase has been seen in people using the Howard County Food Bank. The Howard County General Hospital has seen almost a 40% increase in uncompensated care.  In just the past 2 years there has been a 45% increase in eviction prevention grants.

       In Howard County we are fortunate to have a resource such as Grassroots that provides so many valuable resources for the homeless.  If you are interested in becoming involved in addressing this issue with Grassroots click on this link.

Howard County PFLAG has indicated that the Maryland Senate will hold a hearing on the Marriage Equality bill next Tuesday at 9 am. You can RSVP if you want to join them in Annapolis.

Howard County Schools are hosting an educational session on their career academies tomorrow 1/26 at 7 pm at the East Columbia Library.  These academies are career choices that we all used to know as part of the old Vo-Tech programs and some new ones.

The Journey camps for 8th and 9th grade girls are now accepting applications.  These are camps sponsored by the Women's Giving Circle.

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