Additional Security Sought for Silver Spring Day Shelter

Additional Security Sought for Silver Spring Day Shelter

Progress Place needs around-the-clock guard, council member says

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A County Council member wants an additional $100,000 added to next year’s county budget to fund full-time, roving security officer positions at Progress Place, a shelter in Silver Spring operated by the county.

Council member Tom Hucker, who represents District 5 that includes Silver Spring, requested that the funds be added to the $83,000 the county executive has budgeted for the fiscal year that starts July 1. That money has been set aside to cover repairs to the building that houses assistance programs for the homeless run by Interfaith Works and Shepherd’s Table.

Hucker said Progress Place has never had a security officer on-site at all hours of the day, seven days a week. Following an uptick in crime in the area last summer, business and civic leaders wrote to former County Executive Isiah Leggett and the council, requesting $180,000 in funding for a full-time officer.

“We are also disturbed to learn that the residents, clients, and meal guests and staff of Progress Place are sometimes assaulted, verbally threatened, and threatened with weapons. This also sometimes spills out to the streets of Silver Spring,” the leaders wrote.

Hucker said that the biggest areas of concern are Georgia Avenue, Thayer, Fenton and 13th streets, which surround the building. A CSX railroad bridge over Georgia Avenue, he said, is an area where the homeless congregate and public urination has become a problem.

“I think everyone understands we need 24/7 security at Progress Place, and around the building in as well,” he said.

Christine Hong, the director of homeless services for Interfaith Works, said since Progress Place opened just over two years ago, it has never had a security officer on-site. As a result, there have been uninvited guests sneaking in behind residents and staff who are entering the building.

“That has happened, and so security would allow there to be a way to ensure that doesn’t happen,” she said.

Interfaith Works serves between 25 and 40 homeless people during the day, depending on the time of year. There are also 24 private living quarters on the fourth floor of the building for permanent residents, and showers and laundry facilities on the third floor. At any one time, there can be up to 200 people in the building, she said, including staff.

Hong said the officer would be an unarmed county security guard.

Hucker said the request for the funds will be added to the council’s “reconciliation items” list, which will be considered during final budget negotiations in late May.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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