Respite Care Facility for the Homeless located in Lexington Park

Lexington Park, MD – Being homeless is “living in the real.” Honestly, most people would rather look away than look at it, face it, embrace it and take action.

Ever heard this: “We don’t have homeless,” “Homeless are in the city,” “Poverty is a choice,” or “Homelessness will never be my problem.”

Three Oaks Center located in Lexington Park has been designated by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the lead agency for homelessness in the Tri-County region. Coordinated with the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Three Oaks Center offers emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing to homeless men, women, and women with children from St. Mary’s County. In 2016, the Center opened a respite care facility on its property.

Comprehensive research and data compiled by (DSS) reveal, “The homeless population is typically found in the Lexington Park area, followed by Leonardtown.

Reasons for this are two-fold – Originally, these were the two most populous communities, and therefore required social service providers to respond to the vulnerabilities of the populations.”

DSS has discovered, “Over the past decade, St. Mary’s County has experienced unprecedented population growth. Unfortunately, the affordable housing stock has not kept pace with this expansion. Instead, many new housing developments are priced in a range more affordable to those newly relocated to the county in the higher-paid engineering and technology fields associated Navy activities.”

As a result of both the demand exceeding the supply in the affordable housing market, and the expanding higher-end housing market pushing up the overall market values, rents have risen significantly in the past several years. You have foreclosed homes people can’t afford anymore and rent pay can’t afford to pay.

Not since the Navy established the Naval Air Test Center in the 1940’s has St. Mary’s County experience such dramatic growth. In 2017, we will continue to see the growth of more upper-middle class housing developments in the county and surrounding region. This growth is attributable to the importance of the military operations, as well as engineering and technology objectives of the government.

Executive Director Lanny Lancaster of the Three Oaks Center told, “The goal of the Homelessness Prevention Board is to create a continuum of care for individuals who are homeless or may become homeless. We want people to have affordable housing and be successfully at keeping it. There are challenges for some people who are placed in housing, which is our goal.”

Currently, the Homelessness Prevention Board is: DSS, the Department of Aging and Human Services, WARM, LifeStyles of Southern Maryland, Catholic Charities, Pathways, Walden, St. Mary’s County Library, United Way, Access Health-HEZ, MedStar-St. Mary’s Hospital, Southern Maryland Community Network, St. Mary’s County Health Department, Housing Authority, Three Oaks Center, St. Mary’s County Public Schools, and St. Mary’s County Faith Community

“Together, we have developed a seamless system to meet the needs of the population, I couldn’t don’t do this alone. The key is connection and communication. I was truly impressed with Ms. Ella May Russell at DSS when I got here because of how hard she worked with people. I know for certain, the others (Calvert and Charles) don’t coordinate their homelessness services as systematically as St. Mary’s,” he said.

Having experience working as a servant on behalf of the homeless community, Lancaster told “I worked for the Archdiocese of Washington before coming to Southern Maryland in the 1980s.” He said the director instructed him about a project detail which was to open a new women and children’s homeless shelter sponsored by Catholic Charities AKA Angel Watch located in Hughesville. Lancaster said, “I am still amazed that some people don’t think there are homeless people.”

Lancaster told with his years of experience working with the homeless, some will not accept housing assistance for a variety of reasons.

As more veterans became homeless, Lancaster realized they needed to respond with funding and contacted the Veterans Administration. He said, “Our veterans are a unique group because they served our country and therefore are skilled and trained. However, many of them may have long-term health issues that must be addressed first.”

Lancaster said, the state of homelessness changes suddenly and every year it needs to be accessed. However, with additional funding support from the Veterans Administration and other government sources, the center has been able to expand their services and support for veterans, women, men, and women and children.

In summary, with the state of homelessness in St. Mary’s County, he said, “We still provide permanent housing, follow-up services, crisis and emergency shelter needs for the community, but I am happy to say we have respite care services now – family taking care of family.”

Contact Shertina Mack at