Letters to the Editor

May 11, 2010

Home Store needs more financial support

To the editor:

As the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council prepare the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the future of the Hagerstown Home Store is in jeopardy.

In 1999, at the urging of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), city government established this storefront homeownership education program to combat the low rate of homeownership in Hagerstown. Funding came from an annual grant that the city still receives from HUD.

Realtors, lenders and home inspectors volunteer at Home Store "You Can Be a Homeowner" workshops. Certified housing counselors assist individuals with credit repair, budgeting and assistance programs. Landlords and tenants have an independent resource for information on rights and responsibilities. Homeowners facing foreclosure find help in negotiating loan modifications and other alternatives.


In the last three years, the Home Store has assisted 4,044 clients. On average, about 85 percent of the clients are residents of Hagerstown, and the city has, in recent years, funded approximately one-third of our costs. Why? Because other funding sources now contribute, the city is no longer the exclusive "sponsor" of the Home Store. For every dollar awarded by the city, two dollars of matching funds multiply the impact.

Recent media stories reported that the city revised its budget to "fully fund" the housing counseling program. We thank the council members who recognized the importance of the Home Store. Unfortunately, the city did not restore funding for our "fair housing" activities - a separate line item not addressed in the council's discussion.

A high rate of homeownership and quality rental housing are the basis of healthy neighborhoods. Given the high rate of foreclosures, particularly within the City of Hagerstown, now is not the time to cut an effective housing counseling program. Given the increased grant funding the city will receive from HUD, the city has no reason to do so.

Contact the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council or attend the city budget hearing today at 7 p.m. at City Hall and support the Home Store.

Richard W. Phoebus
Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc.

Almshouse should be opened to the public

To the editor:

The Almshouse does not need a solution. It is our unique treasure house and we have it right in our own downtown Arts & Entertainment District to show off.

It isn't the ugly outside of this eminently historical building that is important. It is not the facade that raises the hairs on the back of the neck. It's not the pattern of how the bricks are laid. What is important are the lives and deaths of the men and women who were there, sometimes from life into death.

It is the slave woman who had limbs amputated by real medical doctors/surgeons under one of the first uses of chloroform, and survived it. It is the American soldiers who, when they were shot outside the Almshouse, were undoubtedly brought inside, out of humanity. Also, if it was a hospital in 1841 for the amputation, 20 years earlier, it was most probably still one in 1863. In addition, all over the east end and downtown of Hagerstown during Lee's retreat from Gettysburg, as the fighting raged all around them, citizens were dragging wounded soldiers into their homes to administer aid.

Hagerstown doesn't need to solve the Almshouse. It doesn't even need to burnish its treasure house. It just needs a security system similar to the Hager House and open it to the public in time for the major commemoration of the 150th anniversary of our greatest, most divisive, most continuingly controversial war - the Civil War.

Mary W. Haines

Prayer is the answer during critical times

To the editor:

I'd like to issue this call to all true followers of Jesus to unite and pray.

May 6 was the National Day of Prayer. The day has passed - many of us gathered in various locations to pray for the church, our nation, every nation and each other - but what of uniting again next week and next month? Why only one day per year?

There are several prayer meetings scheduled each week - with hardly any attendance. Am I being critical? Yes. We live in a critical time and these days call for critical measures.

Prayer is the answer - not more energetic preaching, not better methods, not more money, not bigger buildings - but earnest, united, Christ-centered, biblical, extraordinary prayer.

What could happen if enough of God's people gathered more often for humble prayer and petitioning God to spark another revival and spiritual awakening? 2 Chronicles 7:14 (If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land) holds true today. Let's not just preach it, but fulfill it.

John R. Miller Jr.

Hospitals celebrate health, hope and healing

To the editor:

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