Finding pockets of poverty

Indoor plumbing: State housing agency must find better ways to help those without running water.

March 06, 2001

A BIG THUMBS down is in order for the state Housing and Community Development Department official who said the agency doesn't want to aggressively market a loan program that would allow people without running water to get it.

Why? Because the program's popularity could overwhelm the department and suck up too much staff time, the official said.

What nonsense. It's the 21st century. We send objects into space all the time; we can split atoms and instantly message friends around the globe. Running water should be a universal given -- especially in Maryland, one of the nation's wealthiest states.

A department spokeswoman said the agency would review the way it has communicated information about its array of loan programs. That's a good idea.

The department says it works with local social service agencies to identify families who need indoor plumbing loans -- 11 were made in the last fiscal year. But a Sun story last week profiled people who qualify for the loans but aren't aware of them. That's inexcusable.

State Housing Secretary Raymond A. Skinner should make absolutely sure his agency gets the word out about any program that can help the most unfortunate.

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