Community Leaders Awarded For Helping Bethesda's Homeless
Two men received awards from the developer of Lasko Manor, a homeless housing development that opened in November.
Two men who helped smooth the way for permanent homeless housing in downtown Bethesda received awards this month from the developer.
As a result of their work, 12 formerly homeless Montgomery County residents now reside in Lasko Manor, the new $4.3 million, 12-unit permanent housing complex for the formerly homeless on Hampden Lane, owned and managed by the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County (HOC), a nonprofit housing developer.
“They were instrumental in identifying community groups that HOC should meet with before we went ahead with the building,” said Susan Krimer Yancy, assistant director at HOC’s Office of Legislative & Public Affairs.
The housing unit did stir some controversy, however, when Bethesda Cares argued not enough of Bethesda's chronically homeless -- medically vulnerable residents who live on Bethesda's streets -- were housed there.
There were many questions and a few concerns about building a home for the homeless in an affluent neighborhood, Dabney explained. For example, some people wondered if the liquor store across the street would pose a problem, and others had questions about security, Hartman added.
“We really tried to reach out to those people who needed to hear the facts and needed to hear directly from the administrators,” Dabney said.
Dabney and Hartman invited the developer to monthly meetings with officials from groups such as the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, the county police and fire departments, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center and the homeless advocacy group Bethesda Cares. The two also worked to educate the neighbors through discussions and even a tour.
“The idea was to bring the neighbors in, give them a tour of the facility, explain to them how it would be managed and that there would be safeguards. HOC was not going to put people with violent offenses in there,” Hartman said.
The manor opened last November and is filled to capacity, according to Yancy.
For both Hartman and Dabney, the awards came as a surprise.
“We didn’t do anything for HOC that we wouldn’t have done for anybody who wanted to reach out to the community for something this important,” Hartman said. “Much of what we do, we do without fanfare, so this was cool.”
This article has been corrected to indicate Lasko Manor houses 12 formerly homeless residents from across Montgomery County. We regret the error.