BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Council’s Public Safety Committee hosted a public hearing Wednesday aimed at addressing the city’s approach regulating squeegee workers.
It comes after mounting concerns surround their presence on city corners and public safety.
An estimated 160 squeegee workers occupy roughly 25 traffic intersections throughout the city at any point of time.
We’ve seen many in the headlines like the incident on Conway and Light.
We met Wednesday with others like Deandre Garrison on President and Fayette near Baltimore Police Headquarters.
“I’m making money to take care of myself. And I’m saving money for when my baby is born. So I know right now I’m doing good for myself squeegeeing,” Garrison explained.
As a 22 year-old expecting father, he says Monday through Friday cleaning windows sends him home with between 100 and 150 dollars everyday.
His sole means of income was the center of conversation.
Baltimore Deputy Mayor Faith Leach spoke up about the root causes contributing to their presence on city corners.
“They aren’t a problem to be solved or a nuance that requires clearing,” said Leach.
One squeegee worker shared why he was driven to squeegee.
“I was going through a lot of stuff I just loss my mother, a whole bunch of stuff and like everything else was going on,” he said testified.
It’s the same with another squeegee worker who also testified before the council before engaging with the city back in 2019.
“My best friend died maybe a year before that. It put me in a tough situation. I like dropped out of school and it was hard to find a job so I turned to squeegeeing and after a couple of months I felt like that wasn’t enough,” he remembered.
Dr. Andrey Bundley with the Mayors Office of African-American Male Engagement spends hours connecting with the workers asking the same question. Many that we’ve asked them ourselves ‘What do they need?’
“Man I need to get back in school, man I need to eat I’m hungry. I need housing as (the squeegee worker) just shared cause we share that in common. My mother just died and I need somebody to talk to,” Bundley explained.
He shared the need for real and ready resources for the workers, ones that aren’t just sporadic but sustainable.
“We need resources in our pocket the same way for housing, the same way for food insecurity, the same way for getting them clothes. If they don’t have the appropriate clothes for the job interviews,” said Bundley.
They’re similar sentiments echoed by Garrison wiping windows on Fayette and President.
“I would like a job paying me good enough money so I can have my own house, my own apartment like 20 dollars and hour. That way I know I can take care of myself and my baby that’s on the way,” he said.