ANNAPOLIS — A Frederick County delegate’s bill would double the number of counselors in a state program that aims to keep the state’s neediest residents in safe homes.
Delegate Carol Krimm, D-District 3A, introduced a bill in the General Assembly this year that would double the state’s funding for the Housing Counselor and Aftercare Program in the Department of Human Resources. The program assists families and individuals who are experiencing, or who are in imminent danger of, a housing crisis.
The program currently receives about $258,400 and offers counseling in six counties.
The bill was heard by the House Environment & Transportation Committee on Tuesday.
“It will help people like veterans who are homeless. It will help people like families who are homeless. It will help people who are mentally ill, who are homeless,” Krimm testified. “And we need to get these people into housing. That is the plan to address homelessness: Get housing first.”
Ed Hinde, executive director of the Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership of Frederick County, came to Annapolis to testify in support of the program’s expansion. He expressed concern for the number of families in Frederick County spending more than 50 percent of their take-home pay for housing — a dangerous ratio, he said.
“Having a housing counselor in the county to help guide that family who’s teetering on the edge through the process of locating, obtaining and maintaining permanent housing will be a tremendous benefit to these families at a great time of need,” Hinde said.
Pam Kasemeyer, a lobbyist for Maryland State Medical Society (MedChi) and other physicians’ groups, was among those who testified in favor of Krimm’s bill.
“Housing is the critical component to the effectiveness of so many other social services and things we invest in,” she said. “Health care, education, success, all kinds of things begin to crumble when there’s housing instability.”
Krimm wants Frederick County to attract one of the counselor positions if her bill passes the General Assembly.
“We in Frederick County have a strategic plan to end homelessness. … Please just let me have a housing counselor in Frederick County,” she told her colleagues. “I need that position.”