Eviction woes

October 08, 1990

Getting evicted from one's home is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. But the misery is compounded when all of one's belongings, having been dumped on the curbside, are then hauled away to be destroyed.

For years, Baltimore has tried to mitigate the indignity of eviction by putting the furniture and other belongings into storage for up to 30 days; during that time the property could be reclaimed at no charge. Now the city says it can no longer afford this small gesture of compassion. A bill introduced in the City Council last week would eliminate free storage of eviction chattel and require city trash crews to cart belongings deposited on the sidewalk directly to the municipal incinerator.

Surely there is a kinder, gentler way to handle this problem. The city could charge evictees the cost of transporting and storing their belongings, but since most evicted people never reclaim what they lose, the savings from such a policy would likely be small. Alternatively, the city might arrange with private charities and thrift stores to reclaim whatever is salvageable and redistribute it to other indigent families.

In these tough times government ought not compound the hardship of people already on the edge if any more humane alternative can possibly be found.

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