Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 11, 2007

City is taking steps to help homeless

Street homelessness is the most visible and disturbing form of extreme poverty in Baltimore ("City's homeless get frozen out," Dec. 6).

Two winters ago, the city opened a small overnight emergency shelter only on nights when the temperature dipped below freezing.

Last year, in an important step forward, the winter shelter was open overnight all season.

This year, for the first time, Baltimore has opened a 24-hour shelter where the homeless can receive critical services, including help finding permanent housing. The shelter is a collaboration among multiple city agencies, service providers, advocates and volunteers.

But we have a long way to go. And indeed, in the last year, several privately run shelter facilities in Baltimore have abruptly closed. Fortunately, other community organizations have stepped forward to expand their capacity, and others are preparing to do so now.

More fundamentally, the city has begun the shift to permanent housing instead of emergency shelter for the homeless.

This year, Baltimore Homeless Services has supported more than 200 more permanent housing units for the homeless than it did in 2006.

The city housing department is a critical partner in these efforts, and Mayor Sheila Dixon has made a commitment to end homelessness and is investing new resources to accomplish this goal.

Diane Glauber

Baltimore

The writer is president of Baltimore Homeless Services.

Housing department hasn't met the need

The Sun is to be commended for shining light on the great injustice imposed by a city with so little shelter space and affordable housing that its most vulnerable population must sleep outside ("City's homeless get frozen out," Dec. 6), and for its editorial analysis of the steps Baltimore must take to eliminate homelessness ("Street side," Dec. 7).

Of particular note was the editorial's emphasis on the city housing department's minute commitment to provide up to 150 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people, and the city's glaring lack of any plan to preserve and expand the supply of affordable housing.

The state has recognized the need for affordable-housing preservation with a $75 million commitment ("Md. acts to keep homes available," Nov. 29).

And in Washington, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has promised to provide 2,500 units of permanent supportive housing, 400 of which will come online in the next year.

Baltimore Homeless Services alone cannot provide long-term solutions to ending homelessness.

The city's housing agencies and housing commissioner must share the responsibility and, to date, have done little to ameliorate the crisis.

The housing department's failure to follow through on its commitment to begin providing some of the 88 new units promised to the Housing First program in January and the city's lack of a comprehensive plan for permanent affordable housing are shameful; for those who are turned away from shelters and cannot afford homes, these failings are inhumane.

Antonia K. Fasanelli

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project.

Bus attack merits much more outrage

Where is the outrage? Where is the indignation?

A white woman is almost beaten to death on a Maryland Transit Administration bus by a group of black teenagers, and where is the outrage from Mayor Sheila Dixon or Gov. Martin O'Malley ("MTA looks at racial role in city bus attack," Dec. 7)?

Where are the media? Where is the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson? The Rev. Al Sharpton?

If this had been a black woman beaten by a group of white teenagers, the media would have been all over it and we would have had Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton camped in Baltimore for days.

A crime is a crime. Race should not matter.

This was a horrid crime. It deserves to be on the front page, and our politicians should have been in front of the TV cameras immediately stating that this city and this state will not stand for this type of behavior.

Mark Johnson

Towson

Mass transit systems just aren't safe

I was saddened to read yet another story regarding an assault on a public transportation passenger ("Woman injured in bus beating," Dec. 6).

Last week, it was nine juveniles beating up a woman who dared to want a place to sit. In October, a woman was dragged from a bench at the Linthicum light rail station and brutally raped in the woods ("Repeat rapist held in attack," Oct. 11).

What's it going to be tomorrow?

If in fact Earth is on a sustained warming trend, and if in fact the warming trend is the result of the burning of fossil fuels, one would think the politicians would be making some effort to ensure that the use of public transportation is safe, first and foremost.

But maybe, despite all the hoopla, the politicians don't really believe in the theory of man-made global warming. Or maybe they just don't care about the people.

Regardless of the reason, the mass transit systems aren't safe. And they're particularly unsafe for women.

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