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Budget Cuts Threaten Homeless Outreach Program

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Former client of Volunteers of America Chesapeake's Montgomery County Mental Health & Homeless Outreach Program Sidney McEachin (left) stands beside program director Victoria Karakcheyeva (right) at the program's headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Courtney Dunn, Volunteers of America Chesapeake
Former client of Volunteers of America Chesapeake's Montgomery County Mental Health & Homeless Outreach Program Sidney McEachin (left) stands beside program director Victoria Karakcheyeva (right) at the program's headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

By Natalie Neumann

In Maryland, the proposed Montgomery County budget reduces funding for homeless outreach services. For one group that's more than 40 percent of its budget. That could mean the group will go under in the next fiscal year.

Four months ago Sidney McEachin was homeless and had been for more than a year. But since then his luck has changed.

"It's overwhelming. I'm still in a whirlwind," says McEachin.

He heard about a program that would help him out: Volunteers of America Chesapeake's homeless outreach program. They helped McEachin get food stamps, counseling for his depression and he says he was touched by a case worker's dedication to help him find a home.

"She took me to the interview for the housing on Christmas Eve. I said 'Wow, they must really, really care,'" he says.

McEachin says the county should keep funding the organization.

"I'm not saying we don't need smooth roads. But I'd rather have roads full of potholes than homeless people," he says.

But with the county facing a $761 million shortfall, many hard choices lie ahead before the budget is finalized in May.

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