Sarah’s Hope expands homeless services

Sarah’s Hope Outreach Center, a homeless shelter in Rosedale operated by St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, has expanded its services to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The shelter had been functioning as a day program for the last three years before it took over the night-time services formerly run by the Community Assistance Network.

Amanda Morgan, director of Sarah’s Hope, said the program’s expanded ministry will help meet a growing demand for outreach to the homeless in the Baltimore area. Round-the-clock services began July 1, she said.

“The majority of our guests are families with children,” said Ms. Morgan, noting that although Sarah’s Hope has served as many as 150 individuals at a time, 125 is the ideal number of clients the program is designed to handle.

Launched through a partnership with St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, Abraham’s Tent Coalition and Baltimore County government, Sarah’s Hope provides services that address basic needs like providing meals, showers, laundry services and healthcare. The outreach also promotes self-sufficiency by linking clients with employment counseling, adult education, mental health and substance abuse assistance.

Because housing, energy and other expenses are on the rise, it is difficult for low-income families to find affordable housing, Ms. Morgan said.

“Right now, the state average for a two-bedroom apartment is $930 a month,” she said. “Someone making minimum wage can’t afford that – especially when you factor in other expenses like daycare.”

In 2005, there were 5,400 homeless people in Baltimore County – 76 percent of whom were women and children, according to Ms. Morgan. Sarah’s Hope follows that trend, with women and children representing the vast majority of its clientele. People come to Sarah’s Hope from Baltimore, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and beyond, Ms. Morgan said.

“We also see people with physical or mental health concerns,” she said. “The youngest person we’ve seen was three days old and the oldest is 84. We definitely cover the range of the life cycle.”

With a spike in energy bills, Ms. Morgan is concerned that elderly persons on fixed incomes may face new difficulties maintaining their housing. She is anticipating increased demand on homeless outreach services.

Ms. Morgan said Sarah’s Hope is very dependent on volunteers. There are currently nearly 350 volunteers – many of them coming from churches in the region. They provide lunches, serve as adult education instructors, help with children’s activities and provide general support.

John Schiavone, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, said he is “thrilled” that Sarah’s Hope has expanded its outreach.

“Now we can provide seamless day and overnight services that meet the needs of these families in a comprehensive manner,” he said.

For information on volunteering at Sarah’s Hope, call 410-391-9155 or e-mail Rachael Carpenter at rcarpenter@vincentbaltimore.org.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.