Yesterday a constituent posted a video of Canton Waterfront Park with a few tents set up, tagging the Police Department, my office and a number of news stations asking if these camps were illegal. The implication was that the people should be removed.
Today I spent part of my morning with @BaltimoreMOHS and some of our neighbors experiencing homelessness at the Canton Waterfront Park.

My interactions were all positive and I learned some of the histories of the people living in tents.
Homelessness is a complicated issue, but fundamentally it boils down to concentrated poverty and our broken social safety net. Income inequality has been grossly exacerbated during the pandemic. The minimum wage is nowhere near inflation.
Many times people experiencing homelessness have co-occurring issues like trauma, substance use disorder & other forms of mental illness. I believe in a “Housing First” model, but we should be clear that wrap-around services, mental health support & case management are critical.
Locally, we should push to increase funding for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. That would mean making some hard choices about other agencies that would need to get cut.
We should support groups like The Right to Housing Alliance, Homeless Person’s Representation Project, Healthcare for the Homeless that are on the ground doing the work. Feel free to reach out to Jessi Stevens who is our amazing rep at the @BaltimoreMOHS : 443-934-2868.
To my neighbors and constituents, please do not take unwanted pictures of people experiencing homelessness or the tents they are living in. Please don’t call the police. Living in poverty is not a crime. Please do not ask me or any other city official to remove encampments.
While the conditions they are living in may be unpleasant to look at, the practice of forcibly disbursing encampments is cruel, inhumane and violates CDC Guidelines.
The MOHS outreach team is working with folks to find them temporary and permanent housing when they are ready.

For a starting place to better understand the issue, I recommend Eviction by Matthew Desmond.
You can follow @Zeke_Cohen.
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