Hosannah House now serves homeless women
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:06

Facility has been in operation since August

by John G. Bailey

    A new home for homeless women is finally up and running in Edgemere.
    In the face of considerable opposition from community residents and a change in the initial plan, Catholic Charities’ Hosannah House opened its doors to homeless women 50 years of age and older in August. Vacancies quickly filled.
    “There’s a waiting list of dozens of people,” program manager Benton Berman said during a phone interview.
    “The women [at Hosannah House] are happy,” Berman said. “And their attitude has been great. They keep the building spotless. Chores are split up without being assigned. There’s a relaxed atmosphere here. This is their home.”

About three-quarters of the residents previously resided at Eastside Family Shelter on the Franklin Square Hospital campus, according to Berman. Most of the others came from other shelters. One woman lived in a car.
    Substance abuse among future Hosannah House residents was one of the concerns expressed by opponents of the facility in public meetings prior to its opening.
    “We’ve been so happy that hasn’t been an issue [at Hosannah House],” said Berman. “One of the woman had a substance abuse problem 20 years ago.”
    Hosannah House is not a substance abuse treatment program. Being “clean” is a requirement for admission, though a person with a past history of addiction may be accepted. Residents undergo regular unannounced drug tests while living at the facility.
    Hosannah House is a transitional residence facility, not a permanent home. The women are expected to find gainful employment.
    Lack of transportation to job opportunities was among the issues cited by neighbors concerned about the program. A van has been ordered for the facility, according to Berman. “There won’t be a full-time driver and we’re still working out the logistics [concerning the van],” he said. Residents currently have access to CountyRide and the Walmart shuttle once a week. 
    Some of the women are now volunteering next door at St. Luke’s Place, a senior living facility also run by Catholic Charities. So far, none of the residents are currently employed. Joanna Fraizer, a caseworker, meets with each woman once a week for one hour to help with employment and other transition issues.
    Family members and friends visit the women at Hosannah House. But there are no overnight guests, and men are not allowed in residents’ private rooms upstairs.
    Berman and Fraizer take turns staying at the house during days. There are no Catholic Charities employees at the facility during the evening.
    Hosannah House is the second transitional residence program for homeless people run by Catholic Charites in the Baltimore area. No new facilities are currently planned.