Recently, I posted an article on the City of Baltimore's plan to evict residents of an encampment in Baltimore located near the city jail. I received word from social justice advocates connected to the street newspaper, Word on the Street Baltimore, a thriving street newspaper in Baltimore City writing on homelessness in the local area that the City still plans to evict tenants due to "health and safety issues".
Since I could not find the City's response on their answer to "concerned persons" about their plan to move forward with the eviction on March 9th, (I have a copy of the City's response via email from other homeless advocates), I did find a notable response posted by Word on the Street's blog by the former President of Healthcare for the Homeless (www.hchmd.org), Jeff Singer who I met during the beginning days of this column established to write and support organizations helping homeless citizens in Baltimore City and County. You can read Word on the Street's coverage and Jeff Singer's response here: https://wordonthestreetbaltimore.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/jeff-singer-former-hch-ceo-responds-to-camp83-letter-from-olivia-farrow/.
It appears that the city is still planning on evicting the residents of the encampment by March 9. However, the response by Jeff Singer who has the history along with the long-time experience dealing with the issues surrounding homelessness in this area is very telling in terms of the City's due diligence to provide affordable housing to more than 4,000 homeless persons (as counted in the 2011 Point-in-Time Census report that can be found here Office of the Mayor - Baltimore City - Human Services Division. The Mayor's Office is also the Baltimore chapter of 100,000 homes (http://100khomes.org), an organization of many chapters all over the country committed to housing 100,000 of the most vulnerable American citizens. In order to accomplish this goal, affordable housing is needed - which appears to be the missing synapsis in this recent eviction mandate of the City of Baltimore.
Without a doubt, we who have talked, written, advocated (shouted!) about ending homelessness, have positioned time and time again, that permanent, stable housing is the solution to end homelessness. Mr. Singer's poetic but firm reply to the City is notable. However, without it being heard, the problem of homelessness in Baltimore and everywhere else will remain a problem without the right of every citizen to find and retain suitable housing. In every city, in these economic times, finding affordable, decent housing has become a national dilemma. We must continue to cry aloud and make our voices heard about the problems we face as a nation to house our own citizens.
You can keep apprized of this issue by staying in touch with Word on the Street who is keeping the pulse of the issue moving forward.
Verinda M. Birdsong, Baltimore Homeless Examiner