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‘I can’t not be making money’: City payroll impacting youth workers

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Posted at 10:31 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 23:16:28-04

BALTIMORE — When you work har,d you wanna be paid, especially when that job has taken you off the streets.

“I’m gonna be real,” said Duke. “ I came off the streets to be here, but not getting paid, it’s making me feel like want to go back.”

Duke is 20-years-old. He has a two-year-old daughter, is working to support her, pay rent and other bills.

He works with The Food Project as a way to get off the streets and improve his life while improving his community.

“I’m actually doing something with my life,” he said.

But the paychecks, he’s supposed to be getting have been delayed.

The problem is not with The Food Project, apparently there’s an issue with city payroll who supplies work funds for the nonprofit.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love our partnership with the city,” said Michelle Suazo. “However, there’s a problem with payroll.”

The nonprofit said eight of her youth members have money owed to them. That money is a lifeline.

“We’re talking about making a difference with the kids lives are on the streets,” Suazo said. "These kids already feel like they don’t have a voice, and then to take that jump to come and try to do something different and then not get paid for it, it makes them feel like they just don’t matter.”

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WMAR Staff

The Food Project has reached out to the mayor's office for clarification.

“There’s always something,” she said. “ from concept to implementation is beautiful it’s just at the end, how can you ask the kids to come off the streets, get a job, do something different, work towards a career if you’re not going to pay them?”

Suazo said she’s even paid kids out of her own pocket when they don’t receive checks from the city.

Duke said he needs that money and that the city needs to take its promise seriously, otherwise teens will go right back to the streets.

“ I could be washing a car and getting $10 or $20 out of it, anything,” he said. "I could be walking around even selling waters and make some type of money. To come in here and not make any money at all, that’s not right. They could just cut us a check or rewrite it.”

In a late evening text, The Food Project told WMAR-2 News they were contacted by the city and checks will be ready for pick up.

In a statement to WMAR-2 News, a spokesperson with the mayor’s office said:

“The issue has been rectified. Checks have been processed and all the workers, except one, will have them this evening. The remaining individual will receive their check on Monday.”