Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 21, 2003

City is working to find housing for the disabled

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) recognizes the problems associated with housing for the disabled in Baltimore ("For disabled, a long wait for homes," April 16).

This administration has taken a number of steps to tackle long-standing problems and bring the agency into full compliance with federal disability laws and we are working hard to resolve issues mentioned in The Sun's article. Steps we have taken include:

HABC has budgeted $25 million to renovate approximately 600 units for disabled residents in public housing and engaged architects to design modifications to units that will make them fully accessible, in accordance with federal standards.

As part of an ongoing effort, more than $1.3 million in modifications are underway in 450 other units in the city.

HABC is developing a state-of-the-art computer system to capture and maintain data on modifications, reasonable accommodation requests and compliance with federal standards.

To alleviate more immediate needs for disabled residents, HABC is seeking approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to make reasonable accommodations by issuing Section 8 vouchers to HABC residents with a disability.

HABC completely revised its applications for public housing and Section 8. The new applications, implemented several months ago, made it clear that people with disabilities may apply for the family developments and mixed population buildings that house people with disabilities and the elderly.

HABC mailed a revised application to everyone on the waiting list for both public housing and Section 8 housing, with instructions on how to complete and return the new applications.

HABC has hired a full-time coordinator to facilitate these and other efforts.

HABC is very committed to compliance with disability laws and to meeting the safe and affordable housing needs of all Baltimore residents and we will continue to work toward that goal every day.

Paul T. Graziano

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

Housing, budget cuts push more into street

Kudos to The Sun for its coverage of yet another in a long line of troubling practices and policies of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City ("For disabled, a long wait for homes," April 16).

Fortunately, Regina McCray remains housed, albeit in an inappropriate setting. But for too many of our most vulnerable neighbors, exclusionary policies, the systematic reduction of housing units through the HOPE VI program and a bevy of inefficiencies at HABC result in an ongoing life on the streets.

Unfortunately, HABC may have a new partner in the production of homelessness. Should Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. follow through on his threat to veto portions of the budget passed by the Assembly, many already inadequate programs for low-income Marylanders face further evisceration.

When similar programs were eliminated a decade ago, thousands became homeless, virtually overnight. But apparently Maryland hasn't yet learned the lesson: Homelessness is the wrong growth industry for our city and our state.

Kevin Lindamood

Baltimore

The writer is chief external affairs officer for Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Governor's approach to budget is childish

"Odds are good that slots talk won't go away" read an April 13 headline. And that is very true, as long as some powerful lobbyists will be working hard to see that the greedy, millionaire race track owners get a large share of the profits.

Our governor is acting like a spoiled child who can't get his way. He stubbornly refuses to acknowledge a budget prepared by House Speaker Michael E. Busch that would save the state without the slots.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Busch for saving the taxpayers from the rip-off we would have received from the governor's ill-conceived plan.

Slots are not necessary to balance the budget and, if they were, they should be operated by the state.

Henry Seim

Parkville

Invading Iraq takes U.S. to a new low

Reading with dismay "Cultural leaders protest looting" (April 18), I find the United States stands at its nadir, the lowest moral point in its more than 200-year history.

On the pretext of trumped-up lies and propaganda, we invaded a country that has not threatened us, killing thousands. With the world's most powerful army standing by, we allowed the destruction of hospitals and banks and permitted irreplaceable artifacts of the beginnings of man's civilization to be ransacked, stolen and destroyed while we protected oil wells.

I wonder how we can call ourselves a Christian nation.

Louise R. Sheldon

Ruxton

Turmoil undermines confidence in police

How can we have confidence in our Police Department when the top personnel are being constantly changed ("2 leaders in police command to retire," April 11). And why do we have to import officers from other states when we have the talent right here at home ?

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