Stevensville Homeless Shelter Hits Another Snag - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Stevensville Homeless Shelter Hits Another Snag

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Haven Ministries' artist rendering for a homeless shelter it wants to build in Stevensville. Haven Ministries' artist rendering for a homeless shelter it wants to build in Stevensville.

STEVENSVILLE, Md.-  For the past nine years, Haven Ministries operated a winter homeless shelter out of Queen Anne's County churches and a small transitional home on State Street in Stevensville. The organization has aspired toward constructing a purpose-built shelter at that Stevensville site. However, neighbors were concerned about its proximity to schools and parks, so the project came to a screeching halt.

The county drafted a memorandum of understanding to alter the idea behind the shelter, having it serve more as a transitional home rather than an emergency shelter.  There are still some groups that have a problem with the entire memorandum.

After the process of building a new shelter came to a halt in July due to public outcry, the county drafted a memorandum of understanding that county officials believe better fits what the community wants.

"It clarifies it as a transitional shelter and it does allow for overnight guests, as long as they are vetted through the protocols of Haven Ministries," said County Administrator Gregg Todd.  "It does not mention emergency shelter in the MoU at all."

But Haven Ministries has some concerns about a section of the MoU that would allow for county review of safety protocols six months into operation.

"It would require us to do something, but the question is what would it require us to do," said Krista Pettit, executive director of Haven Ministries.

Haven Ministries asked for that review to be subject to approval by all three parties, but the county wants final say on security.

"The commissioners feel that they are responsible for public safety, so they should have the final say as to what security measures are in place for the Haven House," Todd said.

"We don't mind working with the county on safety, we just want to make sure we have clarification on that one part of the m.o.u.  But we would love to continue to work with them on this," Pettit said.

The group opposing the shelter says it does not like the direction this is moving at all.

"There's really been not much change at all from a year ago from what's being presented functionally," said Mike Rinelli with Save Our Stevensville.  "We think anything worth doing is worth doing well, so how are we serving the homeless well by having this in a residential neighborhood, far, about 18 miles from public services?"

If an agreement on the MoU is reached, the proposal would again go before the Maryland Board of Public Works for grant approval.

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