Participants in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Progress place included (from left) Councilmembers Tom Hucker, George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen and Roger Berliner, Shepherd’s Table Executive Director Jacki Coyle, County Executive Isiah Leggett, Charles Nulsen III, president of Washington Property Co. and Councilmember Hans Reimer. Photo by Mike Diegel.
County officials and representatives of the county’s nonprofit partners cut the ribbon on a new Progress Place Dec. 10.
Opening the facility, located at 8106 Georgia Ave., was described as a major step forward toward the goal of ending chronic homelessness in the county.
Progress Place will provide services such as meals, showers and laundry, primary care health services, winter emergency shelter space and one-on-one case management. Interfaith Works, Mobile Medical Care and Shepherd’s Table will provide the services.
The building also contains 21 personal living quarters, providing permanent supportive housing for vulnerable and chronically homeless men and women.
“Reducing homelessness is not a controversial issue in Montgomery County,” said Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At Large), who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee. He noted that all nine councilmembers (seven of whom attended the ceremony) were committed to the goal.
“Ending homelessness is not only the morally correct thing to do, it is the economically smart thing to do,” he said. “Housing first saves money. When clients are housed, the amount of emergency room care they require goes down. The nights that they spend incarcerated goes down.
“The drain on other public facilities and services goes down, because if you don’t even have a medicine cabinet, how can you be medically compliant?” he continued. “If you don’t have a safe place to sleep every night, how can you keep your mental health and emotional stability together? Homelessness itself is hard work.”
“Co-locating all the services that will occur in this facility is key to getting clients to accept the help that we’re able to provide in Montgomery County with all the great nonprofits that we work with,” said Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-District 5).
“This is a real testament to the good works of the county government and our non-profits and the private sector to do together and it’s the type of joint effort that I hope we see more commonly in the future,” he added. ”
The project is a public-private partnership between the county and Bethesda-based Washington Properties. The firm designed and constructed Progress Place at no cost to the county in exchange for the existing Progress Place site in the Ripley District. The company will build high-rise housing on that site.
Noting its central location on valuable property in downtown Silver Spring, County Executive Isiah Leggett said, “Most people would say ‘Well, we need to put this somewhere else, where the people who use the facility would be in a different location. We don’t want to see them.’ We will cut a ribbon for the right thing in Montgomery County for the right people because it is the right thing to do.”
Shepherd’s Table will serve its first dinner Dec. 15, and its first full day of meals and services will be Dec. 16, the anniversary date of the group’s founding in 1983. Residents will begin moving into the housing units the first week of January.
A view of one of the 21 personal living quarters in Progress Place, which includes a microwave and shower. Photo by Mike Diegel.