City remembers homeless who died this year

Candlelight vigil includes Dixon

December 22, 2009|By Joe Burris | joseph.burris@baltsun.com

Mark Schumann stood among about 100 people braving the cold at the Inner Harbor Monday night to commemorate National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day. The 52-year-old gave up living on the streets five months ago and now resides in a shelter - which means like most everyone else at the event, he would come in from the cold.

But he knows what it's like not to.

"Three weeks ago, I got to a shelter late and it was pouring rain, and really cold, and I couldn't get inside that night," said Schumann. "I slept on bus benches. It's a danger every night when you're out there on the streets."

Monday night's event illustrated how harrowing, recognizing the more than 50 city homeless men and women known by service providers who have died this year.

They were remembered in a candlelight vigil as part of an event organized by Stop Homelessness and Reduce Poverty (SHARP) a coalition of homeless service providers.

Participants in the event included Mayor Sheila Dixon, who reaffirmed her commitment to provide adequate shelter and services for the city's homeless citizens.

"Even though we are facing economic challenges in Baltimore City," Dixon added, "despite that, we can't stop the goals we are trying to accomplish by providing affordable housing so we can take care of our homelessness."

In August, the city received $9.4 million from the federal government's Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. Diane Glauber, city acting director of human services, said that the money has gone a long way toward the city's 10-year plan to end homelessness. The plan was launched two years ago, and since then, the city has placed more than 250 individuals and families into permanent housing, Glauber said.

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