City plea is for more jobs Residents suggest uses for U.S. grants

April 04, 1993|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Staff Writer

The question of what might lessen the problems of communities throughout the city was answered overwhelmingly yesterday with two words: more jobs.

More than 200 city residents, neighborhood leaders and elected officials gathered at St. Francis of Assisi Church in northeast Baltimore to testify at a hearing on how their communities would benefit with the creation of more jobs for its residents.

"Jobs could be given to some of them kids to get them to clean up the neighborhood, because it's dirty as I don't know what," said Katherine Davis, of the Ashburton/Presbury Neighborhood Association.

The hearing was called by the Baltimore City Development Commission and the local arm of Save Our Cities, a national organization that has sponsored marches on Washington, D.C., to demand more federal spending to revitalize the country's deteriorating inner cities.

The hearing was the sixth annual public hearing in which city residents can speak out on how federally allocated money is used.

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke said money should be used to develop job training programs, as well as jobs for youths.

"We need to put our children to work," Ms. Clarke said. "Put them to schools where the work is."

Baltimore will receive more than $28 million in Community Development Block Grants this year, 70 percent of which will be targeted to residents of low and moderate incomes.

In addition, the city could receive another $17.9 million if the $2.5 billion block grant portion of President Clinton's economic stimulus package passes Congress. The House of Representatives already has approved the package, and it is now before the Senate.

If approved by Congress before their Easter break, the block grant stimulus money could be ready for spending by May.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said the feeling among city residents is morepositive this year than it was last year because of the change in administrations.

"It's one of hope and unity," the mayor said. "Urban America wants to do for itself. It's alive and vibrant. These young people would get jobs and money and our communities would be cleaner."

Ted Smith, of People Aiding Travelers or Homeless (PATH), said programs should be established to allow people to market their skills.

"Many people in our neighborhoods have marketable skills, they just don't know how to market them," Mr. Smith said.

Mrs. Davis, who has been vocal in her West Baltimore community for more than 30 years, said she liked the idea of putting area school children to work but has one reservation.

"It's nice for the summer, but as soon as school opens, then they go back and the neighborhood gets dirty again," she said.

Joyce Smith, of the Franklin Square Community Association, said that in addition to creating jobs, programs should be set up where community members could obtain computer training, studies for high-school equivalency testing, and social and communication skills.

"They need better communication skills so that they think no one is talking about them and putting them down," Ms. Smith said.

An update on the committee work and federal development that affect the jobs initiative is scheduled for April 21 at the Zion Baptist Church, 1700 N. Caroline St.

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