Kent Island Homeless Shelter Put on Hold After Commissioner Vote - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Kent Island Homeless Shelter Put on Hold After Commissioner Vote

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STEVENSVILLE, Md.-  For the past nine years or so, commissioners in Queen Anne's county have been working toward putting an emergency and transitional homeless shelter on Kent Island.

But during the most recent county council meeting, commissioners decided to send a letter to the board of public works to suspend their vote on a grant for the shelter.  Some are viewing it as a victory, others a tragedy.

While some who live around the shelter say they are glad the commissioners finally came around and voted to put a stop to the homeless haven, supporters of the location say the decision is "an outrageous injustice."

It was soon to be a much larger shelter, with offices, emergency and transitional beds, and services to help those down on their luck.  A group calling themselves "Save Our Stevensville" says the location just didn't work.

"You have the little league ball fields across the street," said Henry Butler.  "You have the county trail, which is one of the greatest resources in Queen Anne's county. No women or little children are going to want to walk or ride their bikes on this trail."

Other concerns included the proximity to homes and schools.  Concerns refuted by supporters of the shelter.

"My family and I have been big supporters. We've been volunteers here in this current location and can see what a difference it can make in our community. Our kids love to volunteer and love to give back. Having it close in our neighborhood is something we're really looking forward to one day," said Mike Phillips.

With the county commissioners now trying to stop the project, supporters are dismayed, and S.O.S. is relieved.

"They have essentially not only hurt the poor and the homeless in this area, but they've hurt them for generations to come. And that's something those three commissioners are going to have to live with. We were here to help, not just in their time of need, but help to give them a hand up," said Mia Cranford.

"I don't feel that we're in opposition to the location, getting out of the woods yet with this project being moved. I think we've taken the first positive step with at least the emergency shelter possibly being moved from this area," said Michele Pringle.

In their letter to the board of public works, the commissioners did ask to work with the maryland department of housing and community development toward creating a transitional shelter in that location.

Commissioner Robert Buckey sent WBOC a statement as to why he voted the shelter down.  He sent the following statement:

"I simply do not believe that a large homeless shelter with a transient population needs to be located near schools or in the middle of a residential area.” “I am totally committed to find an appropriate location for this shelter and of being part of an active party of finding a solution to this situation. There is no doubt that there is a location that is suitable for the shelter and I look forward to researching that location and working with the members of our community here in Queen Anne’s county”

Buckey also said he understands that there is a need for a shelter, and applauds those who have run the shelter in years past.

As of Wednesday night, the grant related to the shelter was still slated to appear in front of governor Larry Hogan and comptroller Peter Franchot on Thursday morning for consideration, despite the letter sent by Queen Anne's county.

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