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Progress Place expands to help area's homeless

Progress Place, which provides help and hope to the homeless in Montgomery County, is moving into a larger facility and expanding its services in two weeks.

“There are still many people who are homeless. People still need access to service. People still need the path to independence,” said Shepherd’s Table Executive Director Jacki Coyle.

While the three providers – Shepherd’s Table, Interfaith Works and Mobile Medical Care - remain the same, the facility will soon feature living quarters for 21 homeless people, who will not only have a studio apartment to call their own but also will live in the building that provides them with resources, medical assistance and food.

Progress Place is barely moving at all.

Its new facility is a two-minute walk away and still located at the hub of Silver Spring’s transportation center. The four-story structure is located right behind Silver Spring’s fire house on Georgia Road.

The County partnered with Washington Property Company, enabling that Bethesda-based company to own the prime land where the current Progress Place is located on Dixon Avenue if it built the new Progress Place at its own expense, according to Ronnie Warner, redevelopment manager for the County’s Department of General Services.

However, the County is paying for the cost of the fourth floor and a second elevator to accommodate the living quarters, she said.

The County allocated $3.75 million for this project, which also includes furniture, added Warner..

The new facility is expected to serve its first full day of meals Dec. 16, which is Shepherd Table’s 33rd anniversary providing food for the homeless in Silver Spring.

Currently, Shepherd’s Table serves a free dinner every night, as it has since 1983. In the new facility, it will provide three meals a day during the week and a brunch and dinner on the weekends.

The new dining room has 14 tables that seat seven.

Coyle said those meals are so delicious, she recently hired the chef to prepare the same salmon dinner the homeless eat once a month at her wedding.

Shepherd’s Table will take up the first floor of the new building.

Besides serving food, it will continue to offer a coat closet for those needing special outfits for job interviews, in particular. It also will still offer a mailing address for its clients.

This way, clients can receive checks, packages and other needed mail, even if they are homeless, explained Jilna Kothary, Shepherd’s Table spokesperson.

“It’s a way for them to be connected with the outside world and with the government,” she said.

Shepherd’s Table also offers medical prescription vouchers that can be spent at the nearby Safeway.

Coyle is “very excited” about the chance to improve services. She pointed to Mobile Medical Care, which currently offers its services a few times a week. It will have a regular clinic on the second floor of the new building. There also will be an eye clinic.

Interfaith Works will work out of the second floor. It will manage the 21-unit residences and provide case management services to help clients and offers shower and laundry facilities, said Communications Director Charlotte Garvey.

Interfaith Works also has recovery-oriented groups, peer-to-peer groups, substance abuse programs and assistance in obtaining identification papers, said spokesman Andres Gutierrez.

In the current Progress Place, Interfaith Works served breakfast and lunch to clients who helped at the facility. It will no longer provide meals as Shepherd’s Table will handle that aspect.

In 2015, Shepherd’s Table assisted 1,769 clients and served 54, 650 meals. Those numbers are expected to increase when the new building officially opens. Next year, Shepherd’s Table expects to serve 100,000 meals.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Dec. 10, which is expected to be attended by county and Washington Property Company officials. Tours will be given that day.

Montgomery County currently has some 981 homeless people.

@SuzannePollak

 

Last modified onFriday, 02 December 2016 16:13
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