Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 11, 2005

Meet housing needs of the city's poor

The deaths of two homeless men after freezing on the streets of Baltimore underscore the pressing need for increased emergency shelter for individuals and for families ("Homeless deaths spur shelter policy review," Dec. 6).

These deaths added urgency to state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer's complaints regarding temporary trailers in Baltimore County that are serving as makeshift emergency shelters ("Mayor Annoyed strikes again," editorial, Dec. 5).

Trailers are very much on our minds in the wake of the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and the need for permanent housing for the many thousands of families and individuals whose homes were destroyed.

Let's not lose sight of this, however: The last three decades amply demonstrate that, absent an adequate supply of affordable rentals and supportive housing for the disabled, the creation of emergency and transitional housing to deal with crisis situations has a way of becoming, in effect, permanent, no matter how makeshift or inadequate it is.

Decades ago, public housing was designed as transitional housing for those who had fallen on hard times. Today, in our city, families and individuals are staying six months, and frequently much longer, in emergency shelters, because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable rentals.

To compound this situation, we know from national studies and a recent Baltimore-based study that the condition of the dwindling supply of rental units affordable to those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder is frequently deplorable.

As Baltimoreans who love our city and all of the decent things it stands for, let's resolve to aggressively support all measures that address the affordability crisis in low-end rental housing.

And let's make certain that the City Council's proposed inclusionary zoning legislation and the welcome creation of an affordable housing trust fund include eligibility criteria that ensure that the housing needs of our poorest citizens are addressed.

Jane Harrison

Baltimore

Denials of abuse carry little weight

It is hard to balance the many chilling reports of the CIA's use of torture with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's assurances that the United States is abiding by international laws against torture, even in alleged secret CIA prisons whose existence the administration refuses to deny ("Torture ban applies overseas, Rice says," Dec. 8).

In a government with a penchant for secrecy and distortion, the secretary of state's assurances are of little comfort.

The administration is deluding itself (again) if it believes that its vague and exhaustively wordsmithed denial of culpability in the use of torture is convincing to an already highly skeptical world.

John Seed

Ellicott City

Democrats betray front-line soldiers

Given the public statements by various Democratic Party leaders over the last several weeks, it has become more than obvious that the Democrats cannot be trusted with the defense of the people of the United States ("Cheney rejects calls for speedy reduction of U.S. troops," Dec. 7).

The eagerness with which Democratic leaders and their allies in the media are attempting to turn this country's war against terrorism into another Vietnam War is appalling.

At a time when our leaders need to speak with one voice, Democrats seek to gain political profit at the expense of our country's effort to fight terrorism.

Our soldiers on the front lines of war deserve the united support of the American people.

R. W. Kocher

Churchville

Dean is right: War can't be won

As many of the blustering Democrats quake in their boots and seek to distance themselves from Howard Dean to preserve, protect and defend votes, I have to say that I heartily agree with Mr. Dean: A war that has not been declared, except in concept, cannot be won in Iraq ("Cheney rejects calls for speedy reduction of U.S. troops," Dec. 7).

Do those Democrats who are criticizing Mr. Dean, and the sadly deluded Republicans, think that at some point, all the terrorists will change their ways and come out with white flags, begging to be part of the Glorious People's Democracy of Iraq?

That is the one and only way this undeclared war will ever be won.

Michael S. Eckenrode

Baltimore

Death offers family of victim closure

I'm sure that there are studies that suggest that the death penalty is a deterrent and studies that suggest it is not. And, obviously, in the case of Wesley Eugene Baker, it was not ("Protest ends with sorrow, disappointment," Dec. 6).

But while all other effects of capital punishment are debatable, one aspect is not - the death of the murderer.

His discomfort is insignificant; Mr. Baker certainly did not care about the pain and suffering Jane Tyson was subjected to or the sheer terror she must have felt at that instant when she realized she was going to die.

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