PR. GEORGE'S TO OFFER EMERGENCY SHELTER
COUNTY BUILDINGS TO OPEN ON COLD NIGHTS
By Retha Hill
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 4, 1989
; Page D04
Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening said yesterday that the
county will allow the homeless to seek emergency shelter in some county
government buildings for the first time this winter.
"We will use as many public facilities as possible if needed," Glendening
said. County government sources said the executive is expected to unveil a
plan within a few weeks. The County Council also is scheduled to announce
plans in November to promote so-called affordable housing.
Glendening made the comments at a news conference announcing Prince
George's participation in the Housing Now! march on Washington, scheduled for
His commitment to open public buildings for shelters came as advocates for
the homeless have stepped up pressure on the county government to increase the
amount of emergency shelter space and to expand programs for transitional and
Last week, a coalition of church groups and service providers released a
report that shows that Prince George's has the highest rate of homeless
children in the state and the second-highest rate of homeless families, behind
Baltimore County. The coalition's report recommended that public facilities be
used for emergency shelter.
"I would like to see this county make the commitment that at the very least
we will have no more homeless children this winter," said Mosi Harrington,
homeless program coordinator for Community Ministry of Prince George's County.
The county has increased the number of shelter beds fourfold since 1982, to
more than 200, but it has had no policy to allow the homeless to stay
overnight in public buildings in the winter. On extremely cold nights, the
District and Baltimore shelter the homeless in public facilities.
At the news conference, Glendening and advocates for the homeless said
county and state initiatives to help the homeless must be matched by an
increase in federal housing assistance, which has been cut from $32 billion to
$8 billion since 1981. In Prince George's, an applicant for public housing
waits an average of seven years, Glendening said.
"At the state and local level it means constantly trying to catch up," said
Glendening, who will participate in the march on the Capitol along with an
expected 1,000 other county residents.
Thousands of people from throughout the country are expected for the march
to encourage the government to restore money to federal low-income housing
programs. About 300 people, many of them homeless in New York City, have
marched down the East Coast to join the march. They were expected to spend the
night at Prince George's Community College last night before heading into the
Meanwhile, march organizers held a news conference yesterday at the
National Press Club to issue sometimes emotional appeals for a massive turnout
"I beg and plead for every human being with a conscience of good to join
us," said actor Jon Voight, who at one point choked back tears as he recounted
efforts in Hollywood to build support for the march.
"Everybody who is not fabulously wealthy has reason to be here," said Mitch
Snyder, leader of the Community for Creative Non-Violence and co-chairman of
The report on homelessness in Prince George's, released last week by the
county's Coalition for the Homeless, showed 800 people are homeless in the
county on any given night. About 600 of them are turned away from shelters
each day. Last year, 5,153 were turned away. Of the homeless, 53 percent in
Prince George's are families, compared with 80 percent in Baltimore County, 30
percent in Montgomery and 17 percent in the city of Baltimore.
Children make up 55 percent of the homeless in Prince George's, the
highest rate in the state. Montgomery, with 34 percent, has the second
The rising cost of housing in the county, once affordable by national
standards, is a key factor, the report's authors said. The fair market value
of a two-bedroom apartment is $641 a month in both Prince George's and
Montgomery, the report said.
Yet Prince George's has a higher rate of eviction than Montgomery,
according to the report, which collected data from local governments and
shelter providers. Last year, the Prince George's Sheriff's Department evicted
4,000 persons and Montgomery evicted 1,300.
Staff writer Steve Twomey contributed to this report.
Articles appear as they were originally printed in The Washington
Post and may not include subsequent corrections.
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