Baltimore Police continue efforts to help homeless get off the street

Finding Baltimore's homeless a home
Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 12, 2018

It's been nearly six months since Baltimore City cleared out a homeless encampment downtown.

Anyone who spends time downtime may wonder if the city's effort to reduce the homeless population is working according to plan.

Nearly 3,000 people reportedly make their homes on the streets of Baltimore every night.

A homeless woman named Joyce said "I had an apartment. I couldn't afford it, couldn't handle it at the time. They put me out, and so I had to come back out on the street, but I'm leaving on the 29th. So, I got somewhere."

In January 2018, the city cleared out a homeless encampment under Interstate 83.

Baltimore Police Department Homeless Outreach Team Sgt. JoAnne Wallace said "all of the individuals that were in the encampment have been housed, or placed in an area where they will be housed and they're receiving services. We partner closely with the Mayor's Office of homeless services to provide them services and housing when needed."

A spot under an I-395 on-ramp remains as another place for some to call home, even if only temporarily. 

"Here, I can not come and go, because people will come in my place and take whatever they want, and mess my place up," Joyce said.

Sgt. Wallace is one of two members of the Baltimore Police Department, who are also on the streets of the city alongside the homeless. Her job is to help the homeless get off the streets and into a home.

"With the help of partners, we've housed now over 236 people, so it's still growing. It's working. As far as rehab, we've put over 100 people in rehab. We have rehab services that come out, triage on the street, and if they're ready, and they're really ready, they'll take them off the street that day," Wallace said.

Still, it's not difficult to find many people living on the streets of the city. Some may wonder if the city's efforts are working at all.

'It takes time. It takes effort. It's not an overnight fix. So, the hardest part is leaving them, and making sure that they're OK through the night and through the day, but we definitely follow up and check on them on a daily basis," Wallace said.

"Help the homeless, and get the ones that need the mental institution, because we've got a lot of people down here that need mental institution," Joyce said.

Sgt. Wallace said anyone who sees people who are homeless and would like to help, to contact the Baltimore Police Department Homeless Outreach Team by calling 311.

"My motto is one at a time. One person at a time, one family ay a time. So I don't say I'm sad, I'm hopeful. I'm grateful for what we have now," Wallace said.