Homelessness and Housing
Catholic Charities set to run city’s oft-criticized homeless shelter
Above: Sonita Wong told the City Council in 2011 that she was turned away by the city shelter and had to sleep on the streets.
The Board of Estimates will be asked tomorrow to make Associated Catholic Charities the new operator of the city’s homeless shelter, replacing longtime provider JHR (Jobs, Housing and Recovery), Inc.
The Mayor’s Office of Human Services is asking the board to approve a one-year $2.7 million contract for ACC to run the 250-plus-bed shelter, beginning July 1.
The award has not been formally announced, but Linda Trotter, director of JHR services, confirmed that Catholic Charities will take over the shelter. “They won,” she said tonight, referring to the city’s decision to replace JHR.
JHR has been running the homeless shelter since 2008, first on Guilford Avenue and, beginning in mid-2011, at the new Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Housing and Resource Center at 620 Fallsway.
From the start, JHR’s management has been criticized by many shelter users, who complained to The Brew and at a 2011 City Council hearing that JHR treated them rudely and its staff sometimes arbitrarily turned away people.
Alleged discrimination against homeless women became the focus of a threatened lawsuit by the Homeless Persons Representation Project and American Civil Liberties Union.
Trotter defended the program, saying JHR was confronted by a limited number of beds at the new shelter as a result of city policy, and had to contend with surly and sometimes disorderly people seeking emergency shelter.
Two months ago, a 46-year-old man was stabbed to death inside the shelter by another homeless man.
An email message seeking comment from Kate Briddell, the director of city homeless services, was not immediately returned.
Affiliated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Catholic Charities serves over a quarter million meals every year to the poor and operates 80 charitable programs in the region, according to its website.
It is currently operating a program to house 76 “chronically homeless” persons under a $963,000 city grant.