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For Immediate Release

Contact

Caron A. Brace

caron.brace@baltimorecity.gov

Mayor Rawlings-Blake Announces The Power of Home Program to Assist Homeless Seeking Permanent Housing

Collaborative Effort of Mayor's Office of Human Services, BGE, and Fuel Fund of MD Will Help Resolve Past-Due Utility Bills

 

BALTIMORE, Md. (February 25, 2014)—Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and members of the Mayor’s Office of Human Services (MOHS) joined representatives from BGE and the Fuel Fund of Maryland to announce the launch of The Power of Home, a multi-agency program designed to assist homeless individuals with resolving past-due BGE utility bills that serve as a barrier to obtaining permanent housing.

 

“The Power of Home is another step in the right direction toward making homelessness rare and brief in Baltimore,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Making homelessness rare and brief is a key goal of The Journey Home, Baltimore’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, and taking practical steps like resolving past-due utility bills removes a huge barrier that keeps too many families from transitioning from a shelter to permanent housing. This is a powerful example of the Baltimore community coming together to assist our most vulnerable residents.”

 

A part of The Journey Home, the City's 10-year plan to end homelessness, The Power of Home program will eliminate the barrier of unpaid BGE debt by streamlining the process for eligible homeless clients entering permanent supportive housing programs. The program is a collaborative effort of BGE, the Fuel Fund of Maryland, and the MOHS Homeless Services Program and Community Action Partnership.

 

“At BGE, we are committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work, and we are pleased to be a part of the tremendous work being done by the Baltimore City Journey Home campaign,” said Calvin G. Butler Jr., BGE’s senior vice president for regulatory and external affairs. “Last fall, I was privileged to hear some of the success stories of our neighbors who have worked their way out of homelessness and into more stable environments. I couldn’t help being moved by the strength and determination these individuals displayed to overcome the tough breaks that life can sometimes send our way.”

 

For far too long, past-due utility bills have hindered the transition process for many homeless individuals seeking permanent housing. Permanent housing programs have reported that approximately one-third of potential clients—about 50 clients per year—have unpaid BGE debt. Repayment can be prohibitive for these individuals, as the average debt is $1,268 with some accounts exceeding $5,000.

 

Unfortunately, available funds from state and private providers are not always sufficient to allow clients to start a new account with BGE. The Power of Home will supplement existing funding and assistance provided through the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) and the Fuel Fund.

 

"In our role as the last link in the Power of Home chain, the Fuel Fund looks forward to continued collaboration with our partners to assure that more families can move beyond homelessness to a permanent home," said Mary Ellen Vanni, executive director of the Fuel Fund of Maryland.

 

The Power of Home fund consists of $20,000 in bill credits from BGE, $20,000 from the Weinberg Foundation, and $5,000 from The Journey Home. The Fuel Fund of Maryland may provide funds and matching credits as needed.

 

“When those who have endured homelessness are able to take the steps needed to put a roof over their heads, BGE is pleased to support them in their efforts by providing bill credits to these individuals, through The Power of Home program, to help them in their efforts to get their families into a new home,” concluded Butler.

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