County Planning Homeless Shelter Move To White Flint
Montgomery County is planning to consolidate separate men's and women's transitional homeless shelters into one facility in White Flint, according to Health and Human Services Director Uma Ahluwalia. Ahluwalia on Tuesday told the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee her department is looking at an empty one-floor building at 5320 Marinelli Rd. to replace the Dorothy Day Place women's shelter in Rockville and the Bethesda House men's shelter on Cordell Avenue. Both those shelters, leased by the county and operated by the Catholic Charities, are nearing the end of leases and have conditions that Ahluwalia described as "pretty abominable." The plan is to relocate the 18 beds for men and 19 beds for women into the Marinelli Road building in the next eight to 10 months. The temporary shelters can house clients for up to 18 months, though the average stay time is about a year. Clients in the shelters are required to participate in a daytime activity, whether it's mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment or a vocational work program. The shelters provide 24-hour monitoring from staff and case management. Ahluwalia addressed the Downtown Advisory Committee, a group of business leaders, residents and developers advising county government on the redevelopment of White Flint, to assure it that the shelter would have little affect on the community. She said many people don't even know what the Cordell Avenue facility is. "That's how we like it. There's no reason for people to know where it is to make it a place for hand-outs," Ahluwalia said. "Our goal is to try to be good neighbors. If there are concerns, those are conversations we want to have." The 5320 Marinelli Rd. building is a non-residential facility just east of an auto repair shop and a WMATA bus depot. One resident raised a concern about the area, on the edge of the White Flint Sector Plan, becoming all institutional uses. The Montgomery County pre-release center is located nearby at 11651 Nebel St. There are a number of apartment projects planned nearby.