Try the new, improved Hartford Courant digital edition today
CT Now

City's plan to raze encampment is shameful

It remains a mystery why Baltimore wishes to endanger the health and safety of people living in an encampment ("Homeless eviction plan criticized," March 5). Baltimore's "Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness" specifies an effective method to manage encampments: move the residents into permanent supportive housing without requiring them to use emergency shelters. This is the "Housing First" approach that the city adopted five years ago — and refuses to follow today.

More than a decade of research has demonstrated the efficacy of the Housing First approach. No research supports the city's contention that destroying encampments is helpful. Neither is there research confirming that the obliteration of a community will "push the homeless there to get their lives back on track." Perhaps those homeless folks are to blame for Baltimore's 9.9 percent unemployment rate, 22.4 percent poverty rate, and the dearth of affordable housing (50 units of affordable and available apartments for every 100 renter households).

Either city officials are betraying their ignorance of homelessness or they are prevaricating about their intentions. Most telling is the mayor's statement that placing vulnerable encampment dwellers in a motel is "not a responsible use of taxpayer money." Taxpayer money will be used to destroy the encampment (police, public works, and outreach workers), but not to house the homeless.

It is also shameful that a public official would betray such a callous attitude toward people forced to live outdoors. "Many of them are on drugs," the city's homeless outreach coordinator, Olivia Farrow, said. "They can't bring their drugs in the shelter. They can't bring their booze in the shelter." Surely these antediluvian sentiments do not represent the human services approach of a 21st century metropolis.

All Baltimoreans, including our homeless neighbors, deserve better.

Jeff Singer, Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
Related Content
  • Focusing on the root causes of homelessness [Letter]

    Focusing on the root causes of homelessness [Letter]

    Your recent article on the city's homeless people cries out for clarification ("Addressing the intractable problem of homelessness in Baltimore," Dec. 2).

  • Homeless camp a hazard

    Homeless camp a hazard

    As a president of the Heritage Crossing community, I live and work near the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard homeless encampment. I have witnessed on a daily basis how unsafe the encampment is for both the homeless and the residents living in the neighboring communities ("Homeless advocates protest...

  • Deinstitutionalization and the homeless

    Deinstitutionalization and the homeless

    Public-interest attorney Michael Millemann spearheaded a project in 1981 that removed 300 mentally disabled adults from institutions for the psychiatrically ill and found them appropriate placements.

  • Helping poor is what Jesus expects

    Helping poor is what Jesus expects

    I'm always grateful for the careful research and insights of Dan Rodricks' columns and for their consistent compassion.

  • Housing homeless is a bargain

    Housing homeless is a bargain

    Recently, I came across an article about the cost of housing homeless people being less than the cost of the services used by cities when they are not housed. That prompted me to look for a little more information. There have been several studies on the subject. One in Los Angeles found, "The typical...

  • No journey home

    No journey home

    The encampments that have sprouted periodically around the lower end of the Jones Falls Expressway have always represented a small portion of the Baltimore's homeless population, but they have gotten a lot of attention from city officials. A succession of mayors have repeatedly attempted to clear...

  • Homeless deserve better

    Homeless deserve better

    The editorial, "No journey home" (Nov. 11), was a welcome response to the insensitivity in City Hall. Taking away people's belongings, whether clothes, papers or hard-won bits of furniture on a pretext of cleaning the area they live in, is cruel and contemptuous. Nobody deserves to be treated like...

  • Program helps homeless veterans reclaim their lives

    Program helps homeless veterans reclaim their lives

    The Baltimore Station was proud to host U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, members of Maryland's congressional delegation and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently when Mr. Castro announced additional housing resources for homeless veterans ("HUD secretary,...