Lexington Park, MD — Agencies in St. Mary’s County that deal with homelessness hope to have extra services available before the cold weather hits. Three Oaks Center, a homeless shelter in Lexington Park, has applied for a $140,000 federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through a program administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

According to Three Oaks Executive Director Lanny Lancaster, the monies would be used to place a modular unit next to the existing shelter on Lei Drive. In that unit services would be provided to homeless veterans, a staging area set up for the homeless shelters provided by local churches through the Wrapping Arms ‘Round Many (WARM) program, and a six-bed emergency shelter.

The modular unit would contain computers, printers and a cloud account to assist veterans in seeking employment. Funding is also being provided for that component of the program by Booz, Allen Hamilton and NDTI.  The center will also be used to provide “classes, training and mentoring opportunities” according to a letter to the county commissioners by Lancaster.

The commissioners are being asked to support the program. Letters of support have also been received from the St. Mary’s County department t of Social Services, WARM and the Three Oaks board.

In her letter of support Department of Social Services director Ella Mae Russell said, “We have seen a dramatic increase in single adults in crisis and homelessness in our agency and are fortunate to have Three Oaks as a resource to assist these vulnerable adults while they are transitioning to stability.”

During the presentation at the commissioners’ Sept. 1 meeting, Commissioner Mike Hewitt [R – 2nd District} wondered if it would be better to build a larger facility at another location. Lancaster said the mobile unit allowed for them to get services up quickly before the start of winter. He also said there had been discussion by previous commissioner boards about relocating the shelter, and having a mobile unit would give flexibility to relocate in the future.

The CDBG process requires a public hearing, which will be held Sept. 22 during the commissioners’ meeting. Written comments can also be mailed to the commissioners at P.O. Box 653, Leonardtown, MD 20650.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com