Baltimore Press

City May Oust HARBEL Center

A substance abuse center and community association office in northeast Baltimore is being threatened with eviction by the city government.

The center, HARBEL, is located in a northeast Baltimore building that was built specifically for the pro­gram twenty-two years ago. However, a letter dated May 21 from the Department of Real Estate (DRE) states that the city would not be renewing the center’s lease, effective July 1, to make room for a Mayor’s Station.

The letter also stated that DRE was ordered to revoke the lease by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Daniel Henson, the HCD Director, had not given HARBEL prior notice of this lease termina­tion, nor has his office offered any relocation assistance.

HARBEL is one of the largest substance abuse centers in the city. With a staff of 29, it offers services to over

200 adults and adolescents at a time, including individuals infected with HIV. The center also offers pre­vention programs and numerous other community services.

Up until two years ago, the HAR­BEL building also housed a city gov­ernment referral center. At that time, the city’s referral centers were mixed with other services to form the Mayor’s Stations. The Station was too large for its space at HARBEL, and moved to a Northern High School.

According to HARBEL director Judy Fritsche, the center sub-leased the vacant space to another nonprofit organization: MCIL, Resources For Independent Living. The leasing agreement had been authorized by HCD.

The lease termination letter stated that the city would allow the sub- * stance abuse center to retain 2,168 square feet which the Mayor’s Station did not need. “HARBEL cannot fit in that space,” Fritsche said, noting that if lease is not renewed, both nonprof­its will have no real choice but to move by August 1.

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