The Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center is a three-story center named after NAACP leader and highly respected civil rights activist Leola Dorsey. It is the first of its kind in Howard County and serves the homeless as both a resource center for basic human needs and also as transitional housing. The idea for the new center grew out of a recommendation from the county’s Plan to End Homelessness in 2010, which outlined goals for the county in tackling situational homelessness which occurs when stable individuals and families cannot afford housing due to job loss, injury or other disaster, and chronic homelessness, which often involves individuals with mental illness and substance abuse problems.
The first level of the building is the Grassroots Day Resource Center (DRC). The center is open three days a week for four hours a day. During this time, people are able to have a meal, take a shower, do laundry, and receive donated necessities from the DRC pantry. Medical, counseling, and social services are also available. The second and third levels of the building includes 35 single-room occupancy units. These units are aimed at utilizing the “housing first” approach, based on the concept that when an individual has stable housing, they are able to focus more energy on other tasks such as finding employment. Each unit includes a bathroom and a small kitchenette. Also included on these levels are laundry facilities, lounges, and an outdoor terrace. The center serves an average of 100 to 120 people per day.