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Frederick Officials Propose Year-Round Shelter

"First of all, we got to see whether or not if it's even justified here. People believe it is, but we won't actually know until we go into operation, so when we go into operation, obviously we want to reduce homelessness, we don’t want to increase homelessness," said Commissioner Blaine Young, president of the Board of County Commissioners.

FREDERICK, Md. - According to a city report, there were 275 homeless people in Frederick County in 2013. Currently, cold weather shelters can help those individuals but the city and county are exploring ways to provide those services all year round. 

"First of all, we got to see whether or not if it's even justified here. People believe it is, but we won't actually know until we go into operation. So when we go into operation, obviously we want to reduce homelessness, we don’t want to increase homelessness," said Commissioner Blaine Young, President of the Board of County Commissioners.

"And really the need is for greater shelter. There are various kinds of year round shelters that are available but not sufficient and so really that's what we're talking about how we can kind of fill in some of the gaps," said Reverend Brian Scott, Executive Director of the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs.

Officials say it would cost between $150,000 to $200,000 to keep the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs open year round. The county would pay for 75 percent of it and the city the other 25 percent.

"This money would come from a development fee that developers pay called MPDU money which is Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit money. Instead of building them, they can stroke a check and buy their way out of building them and then the money is put in this fund for affordable housing," said Commissioner Young.

The proposal is still in the early stages but officials say the shelter would only be for Frederick County residents.

"Our goal is obviously not to attract more homelessness to Frederick County and the city of Frederick, what we're trying to do is make sure the service is provided for a hand up, not a hand out," said Commissioner Young. 

Rev. Scott says a year round shelter is just one part of a bigger issue and that's providing more affordable housing. 

"Because although you can provide shelter for folks, the key issue is permanent housing. Because whatever shelter you have there's usually a time frame when people can reside in that shelter. So this is part of a number of different solutions," said Rev. Scott.

Commissioner Young, Mayor Randy McClement and other city officials are drafting an agreement about the year-round shelter to present to both boards for approval.

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