The year 2021 could mark two milestones for the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs.
The nonprofit will celebrate its 40th year and potentially the opening of a new fixed-site shelter for families.
The Religious Coalition is currently conducting a fundraising feasibility study for renovating a farmhouse at 7516 Hayward Road and turning it into a family homeless shelter. A fundraising feasibility study helps nonprofits determine their fundraising campaign goals, donors and sustainability.
The farmhouse property was formerly owned by the city of Frederick, which purchased the property from Frederick County Public Schools in 2013 for $430,000. The city agreed in August 2018 to sell the farmhouse to the Religious Coalition for $1, according to previous News-Post reporting, although the property has not yet been sold. The Hayward property was appraised at $7.4 million, as of January 2018, according to state records.
The organization will need to fundraise in order to pay for the renovations to turn the property into a shelter that can house 45-50 individuals, or about 10-15 families, said Nick Brown, executive director of the Religious Coalition.
Religious Coalition will operate the private phase of fundraising for about a year, with a goal of raising half by this time next year, Brown said in an email.
“It’s a matter of being good stewards and finding as many sources as we can find,” Brown said.
If everything goes according to the nonprofit’s plan, construction could begin in April 2020, he said in the email.
According to early potential floor plans, presented at the Religious Coalition’s annual breakfast, the fixed-site shelter could have up to 10 rooms of varying sizes, as well as common kitchen areas, offices and a children’s room.
With the potential shelter, the Religious Coalition could help three times the families it currently assists under its scattered emergency shelter. Without the shelter, the nonprofit can help about 15 people by housing them at different partnering houses of worship. Typically, families stay about two to three weeks, Brown said.
Providing emergency shelter for families can help people get back on their feet, whether it is giving them time to find a job or a more permanent housing situation.
“It allows for calm in the chaos of homelessness,” Brown said.
The nonprofit used the scattered emergency shelter model previously for its adult shelter before opening up the fixed-site Alan P. Linton, Jr., Emergency Shelter.
Although the coalition is still studying the feasibility of a fundraising project, it will likely need a comprehensive campaign if it does go forward, said Carla Maxwell Ray, a strategist who is helping the Religious Coalition with fundraising.
The organization will have to identify key individuals and clarify its vision for the project, Maxwell Ray said. Once the organization has also worked with leadership, such as its board or faith leaders, it can then start broadening its reach for donors.
The 2021 goal is a little shorter than usual with potential fundraising campaigns like this, she said, but if the nonprofit secures buy-in from the community and other partners, it should be successful.
“It’s good to have a deadline to create urgency,” she said.