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Advocates for homeless seek more aid

February 18, 1999

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County advocates for the poor lobbied lawmakers Thursday on legislation that would affect their ability to feed and shelter the homeless.

On any given night, 120 people stay in county shelters, Glenda Helman, chairwoman of the Washington County Task Force on Homelessness, told members of the county legislative delegation.

About 34 percent are children and 33 percent have a mental illness, she said.

Since it opened in November, the REACH Cold Weather Shelter on West Washington Street in Hagerstown has served 32 people a night, she said.

Helman and other local homeless advocates urged local legislators to:

- Increase monthly grants to people in the process of getting permanent housing from $113 a month to at least $263.

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- Increase statewide rental assistance by $500,000 and add $3 million to the budget to build low-income housing.

- Fund a $5 million classroom breakfast pilot program.

- Ensure that a living wage of $10.28 per hour is paid by companies receiving state subsidies.

The group was in Annapolis on Thursday for a statewide rally organized by the Center for Poverty Solutions in Baltimore.

- Laura Ernde

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