Howard St. makeover could bring Baltimore 'Educational 0...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 30, 1998

Howard St. makeover could bring Baltimore 'Educational 0) Avenue'

Regarding Gilbert Sandler's Baltimore Glimpses piece "Howard Street history" (Dec. 22), I applaud the efforts to revitalize Howard Street and the west end of the central business district. However, I'm skeptical that it seems like just more of the same.

I offer the following:

As we move into the 21st century, the most important element of our economic stability is the education and re-education of our work force. Few cities have the wealth of fine institutions that Baltimore has. The success that Johns Hopkins University's continuing education program is having downtown should inspire others.

Howard Street offers the opportunity to link the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the Maryland Institute, College of Art; Johns Hopkins; and other cultural institutions downtown to create an "Educational Avenue" with all the facilities and amenities of an educational neighborhood.

The influx of undergraduates, graduates and academic staffs would create a demand for all types of services. Howard Street could become the university village that Baltimore has never had.

I can envision light rail extensions to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Towson University; and the Homewood campus of Hopkins to bring education to Howard Street as its major function.

Frank Gant

Baltimore

City's STD rate a symptom that is no laughing matter

Joking about the pathetic rate of venereal disease in Baltimore City is akin to laughing at its cancer rate or homicides ("Schmoke seeking publicity for 'johns' " Dec. 11).

The mayor's response [to jokes by "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno on Baltimore's high rate of sexually transmitted diseases] was the real exercise in levity.

Free sex, illegitimacy and sexually borne ailments are merely symptoms of the rapid destruction of the now-unraveling social fiber that once made our urban areas great. Other symptoms include the high crime rate, lack of respect for authority and burgeoning cost of social programs.

Championships in such things as illegitimacy, syphilis or gonorrhea should not be a source of pride. Nor should they emit a comedic response from persons who should be glowering in pain at their inability to resolve the problems.

Is this funny?

Ronald L. Dowling

Baltimore

No. 1 homelessness cause: lack of affordable housing

Baltimore Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III asserts in "President gets warm reception" (Dec. 24) that it is a myth that people are homeless because they lack a roof over their heads. "People are homeless because they have problems -- from not being able to budget money to substance abuse," he says.

This is contrary to the 13-year experience of Health Care for the Homeless. Yes, our clients have a vast range of problems -- from frostbite and amputated toes to diabetes, hypertension, mental illness and addictions. But nearly all of those for whom we have found affordable housing are no longer homeless.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that 25,000 households in Baltimore are unable to afford any housing. This includes 34 percent of those earning less than $13,900, which is half the area's median income. HUD also reports that 28,049 households are on waiting lists for HUD housing assistance. Baltimore needs affordable housing even more than it does homeless services.

Affordable housing alone doesn't solve all of the problems that an individual or family experiences. But it does provide a foundation that permits a host of services to be effective, including diabetes education, mental health counseling and addiction treatment. And affordable housing eliminates one problem that exacerbates all of the others: homelessness.

Jeff Singer

Baltimore

The writer is president and chief executive officer of Health Care for the Homeless.

House did the right thing, if not the popular thing

President Clinton willfully subverted his oath of office when he misled investigators and the American public, obstructed justice through witness tampering and committed perjury before a federal grand jury.

However, with so many voices against the impeachment, I wonder about the state of our society, that we can so easily dismiss Mr. Clinton's grave affronts to our system of government.

Our government is based on truth and the rule of law. Without them, our Constitution is meaningless. Public opinion polls touted by virtually every news organization show that most Americans are against the impeachment-removal process. This is highly suspect. Of those I've spoken to who are opposed, few understand the constitutional process.

I'm willing to bet that a good majority of Americans -- certainly those reflected in the polls -- don't understand it either.

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