County officials and partner organizations aiming to end homelessness on Saturday celebrated a new homeless shelter in North Bethesda that will house up to 200 people.
The 32,000-square-foot shelter at 11600 Nebel St. — on the site of an old office building — has much more than beds. It also has a full kitchen, space for case management workers, public meeting spaces, medical exam rooms, showers and large bathrooms.
Staff members will be there to help with employment and permanent housing opportunities.
David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services, said the shelter, which will open Monday, cost about $17.1 million, including the purchase of the building.
Elected officials and nonprofits lauded both the shelter and the speed at which the building was renovated and built.
Susie Sinclair-Smith, CEO of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, told dozens of people gathered that the project represents one of the “most joyous” moments of her career.
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”30″ display=”basic_slideshow”]County Council Vice President Evan Glass, the council’s lead on homelessness issues, said it “took a village” to build the shelter, and added a village is replicated inside with all of the holistic services offered.
In an interview, County Executive Marc Elrich said it was remarkable how much work was done since November to get the shelter open. He said the shelter will give employees and county officials a better chance to connect people who don’t have homes with resources, including employment, social workers and therapists.
One of those people was Terence Hill.
Hill, a commissioner on the Montgomery County Interagency Commission on Homelessness, said in an interview that he was homeless around 2018. Now, he is the lead chef at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.
He said he appreciates the support he had at multiple shelters around the county, and knows how important the Nebel Street shelter will be for those who are struggling. Hill said that when he was homeless, he was dealing with substance abuse and mental health problems.
Hill, who now lives near Rockville, said it’s important for people to consider the different types of homelessness.
People might be fighting substance abuse and mental health problems. People can be evicted because they’re not on a lease, or they have to stay in a friend’s house for brief periods.
Hill said he feels obligated to give back through the interagency commission and by serving on the People’s Committee, due to people who helped him. The People’s Committee is a committee within the commission that offers input to county officials on how to address homelessness, including policy development and improvements to the entire system of care.
His advice to people to anyone without a home: “Don’t give up. Keep the hope. Initially, it doesn’t look that way in a lot of cases, but it does come to fruition if you keep striving.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com