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Councilman asked to kick out homeless encampment; helps them instead

Posted at 8:32 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 23:07:31-04

BALTIMORE — It started with a post on a neighborhood social media page that included the police, city officials, and news stations.

A few days back someone saw tents set up where homeless people are living and wanted to know if it was legal and if not, how they could be removed— tagging Councilman Zeke Cohen, police, and news stations.

“When I heard that constituent basically inferring that he wanted the encampment removed or the people removed to me that’s not the right response," Cohen said. "To me it’s about how do we help people get stable. How do we create an environment where they don’t feel like they have to come and live in a park? Where they don’t feel like no one cares about them.”

Cohen came to the Park with the Mayor's Office of Homeless Services to talk to the people and ask them what they needed and how they could help.

In the short term he got The Department of Recs and Parks to open up the bathroom for them during the daytime.

“We’re in a global pandemic and if you don’t have a house, If you don’t have somewhere to use the restroom you’re out of luck," said Cohen.

Long term he told them about the services the city has available and is working in City Hall to manage the trauma that leads to homelessness in our city.

“If we can start to eliminate the gross income gap in our city and in our country, we’ll have less homeless people," said Cohen. "It’s no great mistake that cities like Seattle and San Francisco where there is a high concentration of wealth also see a high concentration of homeliness.”

Homelessness is a big problem in Baltimore.

On any given night over 2000 people don’t have permanent housing.

With evictions looming and the pandemic the problem is expected to get worse before it gets better.

“To me there is a real sense of urgency and obligation to support the cities Affordable Housing Trust Fund," said Cohen. "To put more resources into helping people obtain stability and to just provide housing. What we don’t want to see is an eviction crisis. I worry that we are staring down the barrel of one just like so much of the country right now.”

A post that drew a lot of negative attention to people that are already struggling turned to action to get them help.

If you want to help our homeless community here are a few links to organizations, you can get involved in.

Mayor's Office of Homeless Services

Ending Homelessness in the Baltimore Region

Homeless Person's Representation Project