Advocates for Baltimore's homeless will dispatch a resolution today, asking city leaders to take the offices of Health Care for the Homeless Inc. off the list of 127 properties to be condemned in a downtown renewal plan until an alternative site can be found for the agency.
Members of the city's Homeless Relief Advisory Board plan to deliver their request to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and the City Council to aid the agency at 111 N. Park Ave. that provides daily medical care and social services to as many as 175 clients.
The property sits in the path of a $350 million proposal to resuscitate 18 blocks of downtown's west side with shops and apartments. Designs include turning the agency's property adjacent to Lexington Mall into a park.
But the 18-member advisory board, which makes recommendations on the homeless to city officials, wants special consideration given to the agency's site. "We are the board that speaks for the homeless," said Baltimore District Judge Jack I. Lesser, board chairman. "This board believes [Health Care for the Homeless] provides a vital service."
The fate of Health Care for the Homeless is the latest clash between downtown redevelopment and the needs of the city's poor. Downtown business leaders have asked Our Daily Bread soup kitchen to relocate its Cathedral Street property outside the area of planned Charles Street redevelopment.
Last month, the city Planning Commission unanimously approved the west-side renewal ordinance. A City Council Urban and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will consider the matter at 7 p.m. March 16.
Schmoke has advocated creating an alternative homeless center away from downtown that could handle several aspects of serving the poor, including a soup kitchen, medical care and possibly housing. The city has discussed using a former elementary school on Greenmount Avenue, between Oliver and Federal streets.
A Schmoke spokesman said yesterday that the mayor was aware of the pending advisory board request and plans to work with it. "Their goals are not inconsistent with his," Clinton R. Coleman said.
Officials from Baltimore Development Corp., the city's nonprofit development arm, met with the advisory board Tuesday night. BDC officials said they must treat Health Care's property as they do every downtown business facing possible eviction.
Pub Date: 3/04/99