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Quick and Dirty

Small Bills

By Christina Royster-Hemby | Posted 1/19/2005

“I would just like to [go] to my own home, get warm, and go to sleep,” says 48-year-old Baltimore native Keith Hall. For the past three years, Hall has been homeless. He’s been spending his nights at friends’ houses, or in homeless shelters when he can get a bed.

But last week, Hall’s wish for a home of his own was granted, and he moved into a new apartment. Hall, who says he became homeless after “running the streets” and dealing with illness, drug addiction, and incarceration, moved into the Brentwood Apartments on 25th Street and Greenmount Avenue. A $96 emergency cash grant from a Baltimore-based charitable foundation made it possible for him to pay the required $50 security deposit and $46 for his first month’s rent.

“Sometimes people just need a small amount of money that will get them to the next level,” says Barbra Levin, program officer for the Baltimore Community Foundation. “It depends on what someone’s situation is. There might be someone who is very poor but needs to replace their eyeglasses, or hearing aid, et cetera.”

The Baltimore Community Foundation is distributing money to other nonprofit groups as part of its Ensign C. Markland Kelly Jr. People’s Emergency Fund. This year, the organization gave $15,000 to six city nonprofit organizations that will distribute the funds to individuals in need. Grants range from $10 to $300. Hall received his grant from Healthcare for the Homeless.

“These funds are designated to help people who are already in dire straits financially and need a small infusion of cash for emergency situations like having the money buy a new identification after being a victim of theft, or needing emergency baby-sitting money, or maybe even bus fare across town for a job interview,” Levin says.

For Hall, the “small infusion of cash” means getting into a room of his own. Prior to this, he says, he was living in the basement of a friend’s house. He says he’s looking forward, he says, to “getting a good night’s rest, or several nights, in fact.”

For more information on getting an emergency grant, individuals can contact one of the six agencies that are part of the Ensign C. Markland Kelly Jr. People’s Emergency Fund: Community Assistance Network, Community Support Program University of Maryland, Healthcare for the Homeless, Paul’s Place, Power Inside, and Sisters Together and Reaching.

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