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Rockville Homeless Shelter Survives Power Scare

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Homeless shelters in Montgomery County are opening their doors round the clock during the deep freeze. One major facility overcame more than its share of challenges today.

On a typical day, the men's homeless shelter at Rockville's Home Builders Care Assessment Center can house about 135 individuals. As temperatures dropped, an expected influx of people entered the facility overnight and shelter officials were making room for more this morning when just about the worst thing that can happen in this weather occurred.

"Our electricity went out today. I was in a meeting when I was informed that all of our power in our emergency shelter and our main office went down," says Susie Sinclair Smith, executive director of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless. "We immediately thought 'Where are we going to place 200 men who are in our facility? Where can they go?'"

The center is one of a few facilities in a county with approximately 1,000 homeless individuals, so when the outage happened, Smith says she began to scan a very short list of where the men might be transferred.

"I was actually at a meeting at the county council's office and I thought, 'That's good, because I can go directly to the councilors and plead for a place to take them,'" says Smitth. "But then I was halfway down the hall headed to one of the counselors office when I was told the electricity was turned back on."

More than 160 homeless men entered the shelter Monday night — even more are expected this evening.


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