Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 14, 2004

Cap on program cuts life support for the disabled

Kudos to Sun writer Tom Pelton for analyzing the likely impact of the Department of Human Resources' decision to freeze enrollment in the Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance (TEMHA) program ("Program cuts affect those with `nothing,'" Jan. 9).

The cuts will remove a critical safety net for thousands of poor Marylanders with disabilities who, with state help, are reclaiming their lives.

Readers should know that TEMHA is actually a loan program for the majority of enrollees. All participants with long-term disabilities are required to apply for federal Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This includes people with HIV/AIDS, amputees, individuals such as Darty Bell who are dually diagnosed with addiction and a major mental illness, and others medically certified as permanently disabled.

Once they receive federal disability assistance - a process that takes as long as two years in Maryland - the state is reimbursed for every penny it spent on TEMHA, before applicants receive the retroactive federal benefit.

TEMHA is a positive investment in the future - an investment for which the state is repaid both in actual dollars and through reduced emergency room, public safety and social service costs.

Maryland simply cannot afford to cap this important investment in human potential.

Jeff Singer

Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Because of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s unwillingness to help raise revenue for the state, our most vulnerable citizens are being cut off their life support.

The freeze on the Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance program is ruthless. These are Maryland's most vulnerable citizens - people unable to work because of disability. The $185 the state gives them is a pittance.

Mr. Ehrlich is following the Republican party line of starving our safety net programs.

But it's a disgrace when the leader of our state can bring himself to cut off the most vulnerable people from the aid they need just so he can continue with his draconian budget cuts.

Aimee Darrow

Baltimore

Ehrlich's blackmail of kids is shameful

Shame on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for his administration's recent threat to withhold education funding if he cannot have his pet slots legislation ("Education aid could be cut if slots bill fails," Jan. 8).

It is bad enough that the governor insists on extracting revenue from a targeted segment of the population that cannot afford it. But to compound this sin by blackmailing the state's public school children - what disgraceful behavior by a governor.

John Bonn

Stevenson

Criticizing gun locks seems hypocritical

The free gun-lock idea is a good one. It removes all reason for a parent not to comply with Maryland law requiring such locks where children are in the household ("Police pushing gun safety," Jan. 9).

But I found troubling the view put forth by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence - that the motives of the gun-lock suppliers were less than noble.

The Brady Center's commitment to repealing the right of Americans to own and use firearms aside, it has always claimed that its motivation was to protect public safety, particularly that of children. Now it seems those claims are indeed hollow.

Apparently the Brady Center is more interested in continuing the trend of the tragic harming of people so that its agenda can be furthered, rather than in the practical safety provided by the kind of mechanical devices it originally called for.

Harry DeBusk

Baltimore

UB should explore new uses for Odorite

Even before I had moved to Baltimore, I had noticed the beautiful and old but shamefully maintained Odorite building at the southeast corner of Mount Royal and Maryland avenues near the University of Baltimore campus. Just another of Baltimore's abused and neglected buildings, I thought.

Then, on Jan. 5, I saw its picture and the article "Course of Action" in The Sun. Lo and behold, the building is owned by the University of Baltimore, not by some absentee slumlord or bankrupt company.

Other universities would practically kill to have such a cool, historic building. Yet UB wants to throw away its piece of the city's history by tearing the building down.

What a disincentive to attend the university.

Certainly, the wiser course of action would be to follow the example of the Tide Point and American Can Co. projects and turn the Odorite building to new and extremely cool uses.

Crystal Heshmat

Baltimore

Compromise to save historic building

Preservationists have never been against a University of Baltimore student center ("Course of action," Jan. 5). We just want to save the beautiful and historic Odorite building.

For more than a year, Baltimore Heritage, the Maryland Historical Trust and the community have been on record as willing to negotiate a reasonable solution. But University of Baltimore President Robert Bogomolny and the university haven't responded in kind.

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