Extension Helps Homeless

Extension Helps Homeless

GSA, county extend contract for homeless shelters.

Last Sunday, the residents staying at the three Woods Road emergency homeless shelters would have had to pack their bags and relocate to hotels or other locations at the county's expense.

Loudoun County and the Good Shepherd Alliance (GSA), Inc. worked out an agreement so the 27 residents at the Leesburg area shelters could continue staying up to the three-month limit. The county avoided temporarily closing down the shelters when GSA's contract with the county ended on Dec. 1.

The GSA board of directors voted Nov. 8 to end its contract to operate the shelters, claiming the alliance could not afford to meet the new requirements in the county's Request for Proposals for a new contract. Later that month, GSA contacted the county and offered to sign an amendment to the contract, which extends the contract two months to Jan. 31, 2003 at a cost of $30,000.

"The 60-day extension is necessary to support both the county's and the GSA's transition efforts," said Joyce "Joy" Trickett, GSA board chairperson. "We want the citizens ... to know our mission is to care for the homeless, and it will remain so as we continue work at our property near Lucketts."

GSA plans to start up a woman's shelter at the 10-acre site the alliance purchased in the late 1990s.

THE COUNTY is considering three possible applicants to begin a 12-month contract on Feb. 1, 2003. The Finance and Government Services Committee approved providing nearly $200,000 for the fiscal year (FY) 2003 contract and the two-month amendment. The funds are an addition to $150,000 in funds the county approved in April for the FY03 budget and $57,000 in state and federal grants. The committee also approved another $165,000 for the FY04 budget.

The contract increase provides funds to operate the shelters, which have a total of 40 beds, with a 24-hour staff as required by the county's Request for Proposal.

"It's very promising the Board of Supervisors realized the necessity and importance of homeless shelters in our county," said Cindy Mester, director of Loudoun County Housing Services. She expects to have a contract with one of the three non-profit organizations applying for the contract by the end of the week.