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County Council approves grant for homeless-outreach center in Towson

The Baltimore County Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to give a $300,000 grant to a homeless-outreach center in downtown Towson.

Prologue Inc. had been renting its building for $1 per year from Trinity Episcopal Church for the past two decades, but will now buy the property outright with the grant money.

Andrea Van Arsdale, the county’s director of planning, testified Tuesday that “based on the discussion at last week’s work session, Prologue has offered to add restrictions to the grant agreement that preclude the use as a homeless shelter, and to prohibit any overnight stays. Other restrictions include installing an exterior sign with contact information, increasing security measures to deter any loitering, and painting the exterior of the building.”

Some people who own space in the office building across from Prologue said the outreach center attracted homeless people to the area who, upon finding Prologue closed, often look for shelter in their office building or garage. Prologue is only open from 8AM to 3PM three days per week.

“I want to thank the administration for working with my office for incorporating those conditions into the agreement,” said Councilman David Marks, who had paused the grant’s approval process to hear community concerns. “I think it greatly strengthens the agreement and actually strengthens Prologue’s mission, but also provides important protections for the community.”

Marks asked Van Arsdale what would happen if Prologue sold the property within the next 15 years, which is the length of the grant agreement.

“They would have to continue with the original conditions of the contract and grant agreement,” she replied.

Wayne Gioioso, a Towson real estate investor, had proposed a different idea in which he would buy the property and donate it to a community task force. The task force would then lease the land to a developer and and create a perpetual ground-rent revenue stream for homeless services. Prologue’s future, though, was left up in the air under that plan.

This week, Gioioso asked the council to add another amendment to the agreement under which the county would have the right of first refusal to purchase the property back for $300,000 if Prologue ever decided to sell.

“If Prologue ceases to exist or tries to sell the property, this would allow the county to get possession of the property, control future development, and profit from any enhanced future value,” he wrote in an email to the council. “Should Prologue cease to exist in the future, this would also give the county the ability to use the proceeds for future homeless efforts.”

Debate over grant for homeless-outreach center in Towson stirs controvery

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7 Comments on "County Council approves grant for homeless-outreach center in Towson"

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Vince Norris

Thanks to Mr Gioioso for trying to protect the community and provide options to help the homeless and Towson

Expanding this facility right in the middle of a 650 student grade school and a day care center unnecessarily puts children at risk.

No effort was made to look at alternative options/locations

Very poor effort by local government

Additionally a “not for profit” enriches itself and now owns a building without spending any of their own money !

Ed M.

You mention the 650 student grade school. Don’t you think it’s up to the church that runs that school to weigh in? I would care what they have to say about the “threat” to the school way more than your opinion.

Ann Hutson

Most nonprofit organizations provide services on a shoe-string budget, particularly to this vulnerable population of our citizens, many who have a multitude of problems not easily addressed. No one is getting rich off this deal.

Vince Norris

Most nonprofits do run on a shoe string budget…this one does NOT

Check the records

M stins

Annual budget:

Jennifer Bolster

The facility has been quietly operating without problems at this location for 20+ years.
There is no expansion of the facility planned.
Children are not at risk. The clients are poor and some are homeless. That does not make them criminal or any more threatening than any other Towson resident
The purchase of the building allows a continuum of social services, which takes a considerable load off the County’s Social Services.

Vince Norris

Yes there is expansion of services

It is becoming fulltime vs current 3 days a week