A nonprofit organization serving two of Maryland’s most populated counties has been named a recipient of a $1.9 million state grant.

The Maryland Board of Public Works at its recent meeting approved the allocation of the grant funds to the Young Women’s Christian Association, or YWCA, of Annapolis and Arundel County through an established state-funded Shelter and Transitional Housing Facilities Grant program.

Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock.com

The state’s allocation will contribute toward the cost of a new 7,800-square-foot residential facility that will provide a number of amenities for recipients. Among them are bedrooms, study space, a kitchen, staff offices, meeting rooms, and dedicated outdoor space.

The project’s total cost clocks in at $4.96 million. Other funding sources include grants from private foundations.

The new residential facility will serve as an extension to an existing domestic violence safe house and dedicated education and wellness center that was completed in 2019.

Kenneth Holt, the state’s secretary of Housing and Community Development, said the funding contribution had been part of a larger effort in more recent years to combat homelessness.

Throughout Gov. Larry Hogan’s two terms, Holt asserted homelessness across Maryland had been reduced by 36% across all demographic cohorts.

Holt said the Shelter and Transitional Housing Facilities Grant program had been one means of addressing homelessness within Maryland.

“I think it’s a hallmark of the sensitivity and our determination to make sure that all people have adequate housing – and quality and safe housing,” Holt said.

Based on its design, funds awarded to organizations from the Shelter and Transitional Housing Facilities Grant program do not have to be repaid so long as several caveats are met.

One of the stipulations, according to state documents, notes payment forgiveness is in place “as long as the project is used as a shelter, transitional housing or other housing facility for homeless households for 15 years.”

Holt – who, like Hogan, is winding down his time in state politics – said he has been collaborating with Dennis Schrader, secretary of health, to enhance services to another vulnerable population: people diagnosed with mental illness.

Holt said his conversations have been designed “to address a problem where mentally impaired individuals that are in our hospital system have to be released by court order, and they can’t be released immediately into permanent, supportive housing.”

Bringing critically needed services to people struggling with mental illness has long been a complex issue, Holt said.

“There’s a couple of steps along the way,” he said. “I encourage this board and the General Assembly of the future to embrace this very important initial step (temporary housing) to help heal those who really are the most disadvantaged among us.”

David Fidlin

The Center Square contributor

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