WEST OCEAN CITY — An organization dedicated to providing transitional housing and other support to those needing a leg up might soon be able to provide a more permanent solution if a bill introduced in the Maryland General Assembly is approved.
Senator James Mathias (D-38) last week introduced a bill in the General Assembly that, if approved, could provide a much-needed fiscal shot in the arm for a Diakonia, a West Ocean City-based organization that has provided transitional housing and other resources to those in need in Worcester County for four decades. Diakonia has an ambitious capital plan to build affordable housing at an undisclosed site and Senate Bill 773, if approved, could provide a $350,000 jumpstart for the future project.
For 40 years, Diakonia has provided housing and support services for the homeless and those in danger of becoming homeless in the community. Executive Director Claudia Nagle said this week, the proposed affordable housing project, the details of which have not been made public, would take the organization to another level and expand on the services it could provide. She said the plan calls for around 16-20 housing units to start, varying in size, with some space allocated for offices and training.
“What we’re trying to do is expand the scope of the services we provide,” she said. “Affordable housing is very challenging for many folks and the resources are insufficient to meet the demand. We’ve made a decision to pursue an affordable housing project in Worcester County. We’re hoping to provide a long-term, sustainable solution for many in our community who need it the most.”
Nagle said if the $350,000 in state funding spelled out in the bill introduced last week is approved, it could be a lynchpin for the project, which will likely include a fundraising campaign and involve seeking support from the local governments as well.
“We know there’s a need, we just can’t meet the demand with the resources and the facilities we have,” she said. “The state funding this bill could provide is just a start for the acquisition of the property. It’s just a piece of the puzzle, but it’s a big piece.”
For his part, Mathias said he was glad to introduce legislation that could help the proposed Diakonia project move forward.
“We’re very fortunate with what they provide in our community in terms of transitional housing and other resources for those who need it most,” he said. “They do a tremendous job and provide a tremendous service. They have a capital plan and this bill, if approved, could provide them with a jumpstart.”