Homeless shelter to displace residents in Howard County

38 families will be moved from mobile home park

Some families in Howard County say their homes are being snatched out from under them.

The county wants to build a new homeless shelter on the site of what now the Beechcrest mobile home park.

It's behind the Econo-Lodge on Route 1 North of Laurel; 38 families live there, including Janice Brown's.

She and her husband have two bedrooms, hardwood floors, and they own the mobile home itself.  So the only monthly payment is the rental of the space where it sits -- less than $500 a month.

But now the Howard County Housing Commission has purchased the entire mobile home park.  The plan is to move everyone out and build the shelter.

"You talk about buying me out; you're putting me off of the property that I live on and to me that's not fair. It's not my decision to go you're telling me I have to leave so there has to be some compensation," Brown said.

And county officials say there will be compensation for those 38 families.

"There have been closings of mobile home parks on Route 1 in the past.," said Tom Carbo of the Howard County Housing Commission.  "We've provided financial assistance to quite a few of those and helped them to relocate and we've done so successfully."

Still, the irony of the situation is not lost on Janice Brown.  "We're losing our homes and they're supposed to build a homeless apartment complex," she said.

And she's worried that whatever Howard County might come up with to help her find a new place to live might not be enough.

"I'm just waiting to see how that pans out before I feel like ‘Uh oh it's time to get a lawyer and see what other recourses that I can take.'"

The county has completed its purchase of the land; it now has one year to find ways to help those 38 families move out.

Officials will release more information about their plan this spring, and then they hope to start building the homeless shelter in 2014.

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