"This is my little castle!"
And to Velta Tucker, a former school cafeteria worker, her apartment is her castle. She escaped homelessness with permanent housing in Gaithersburg.
Sharan London helped convert the downtrodden motel into the Seneca Heights housing program for homeless families.
London was the first director of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless. Under her leadership, it grew from a $1 million budget to more than $9 million, helping hundreds of homeless people each year.
With her work came recognition. London was named citizen of the year, one of Maryland’s top 100 women and ABC7’s Working Woman of the Year.
London said her biggest challenge is convincing lawmakers that homelessness is a problem in such an affluent county.
“It looks so different in Montgomery County than it does in D.C.” she said. “We have people living in the woods, so it's sort of a struggle.”
London is a mother of two and grandmother of one. She would bring her children to the homeless shelters to pass on her mantra that “everyone deserves the dignity of a home.”
London is now the vice president of ICF, an international consulting firm She’s working directly one homeless issues and getting HUD funds for housing and job training for the local homeless population.
Back at Velta Tucker’s “castle,” as she calls it, London sees firsthand the new lease on life made possible by her hard work.
“I really believe we can end homelessness in this country,” she said.