Group seeks creation of 3,000 jobs Public works program is goal of Save Our Cities

March 11, 1993|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,Staff Writer

More than 100 church and community leaders met in the basement of a West Baltimore church yesterday to begin devising a strategy for creating 3,000 public works jobs in city neighborhoods.

The meeting was called by the local branch of Save Our Cities, a national group that last year sponsored a March on Washington to urge more federal spending to revitalize America's crumbling inner cities.

Those at the meeting hope to get an unspecified amount of federal money and some $250,000 to $500,000 from private sources to create 3,000 neighborhood-based jobs with annual salaries of at least $15,000 and to provide workers with training and literacy skills.

They did not specify what kind of public works jobs they had in mind.

The meeting was held at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in the 1500 block of Druid Hill Ave.

Former Rep. Parren J. Mitchell told participants that they are "agents of social change" and the "the conscience of the city."

To dramatize the city's unemployment problem, Mr. Mitchell told the group about a jobless man who came to his West Baltimore home and offered to repair two missing fence pickets.

" 'I need the work,' " he recalled the man telling him.

"I told the guy to fix the fence," Mr. Mitchell said. "I gave him far too much money to do it, but what could I do. What would you do?"

Save Our Cities national goals include reducing the defense budget, higher taxes on the wealthy and increased federal funding for social programs.

Sister Katherine Corr, co-chair of the local Save Our Cities, said she hopes the public works program, if realized, will be "a good model for other cities to copy."

Mr. Mitchell said deep cuts in the defense budget would free more dollars for social programs.

He pointed to "$39.6 billion for research and development of weapons" that has not been cut from the military budget.

At a meeting set for April 3 at St. Francis of Assisi School, 3617 Harford Road, participants in yesterday's meeting are to outline the kinds of jobs that would benefit their communities.

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