[Hpn] Baltimore Mayor promises Homeless Day Centers as protesters defy feeding ban (fwd) feeding ban (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 18 Dec 2000 22:51:25 -0800 (PST)

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"[Baltimore Mayor} O'Malley said if groups persist in handing out food in
front of City Hall, they will be issued citations. He said he's not trying
to "hide the homeless," as advocates suggest, but that the "nightly
feedings are not conducive" to business at City Hall." -- from article below

FWD  Baltimore Sun - Dec 19 2000
     News  /  Maryland



     By Gady A. Epstein
     Sun Staff

          In the midst of a flap over a ban on feeding the homeless in
front of City Hall, Mayor Martin O'Malley said Monday that he will
establish several daytime resource centers for the homeless throughout the

          The centers, which could be open by spring, would provide a
combination of services from city government and private charities -- part
of what O'Malley said will be a more comprehensive attempt to meet the
needs of the city's estimated 3,000 homeless, from food to health care to

          "The issue of homelessness in this city and the plight of people
who are homeless has not gotten the attention that it's going to receive
now," O'Malley said. "There's all sorts of opportunities to reach out in a
better way to link up people who are homeless with all the services that
they need."

          The mayor's comments came shortly after a protest Monday against
the new City Hall ban by a group of roughly 100 people, including the
homeless and members of various charitable and advocacy groups. O'Malley
said he wanted to make clear that he is focused on the issue of
homelessness in Baltimore.

          It's unclear how the cash- strapped city will pay for the
resource centers, which were recommended by a city task force in March.
O'Malley said he expects federal funds and foundation money will help fund
the initiative.

          The task force estimated a start-up cost of $4 million to $6
million for six centers, plus $2 million annually to run them. O'Malley
said he expects a lower price tag, and he didn't commit to as many as six

          Nevertheless, the mayor's decision is a bit of welcome news to
advocacy groups, who have long complained that the city's services for the
homeless are woefully inadequate.

          "It's a step forward," said Rob Hess, president of the Center for
Poverty Solutions in Baltimore. "It is very exciting that the mayor has
focused on the issue that our neighbors are experiencing home lessness."

          Dozens of homeless people lined up in City Hall plaza for chili,
hot dogs, fruit and cupcakes, while volunteers with Viva House held up
banners proclaiming, "Stop the War Against the Poor" and, "Shame."

          The advocates accuse O'Malley of trying to hide the homeless by
pushing them away from City Hall to a city-owned trailer at the Fallsway
and East Madison Street, across from the Central Booking and Intake Center.
They also were upset by his comment last week that if they felt the new
site was unsafe, "I suggest that maybe they do it in Towson."

          Several homeless people interviewed Monday said they didn't like
getting their food near the jail.

          "It was like being in central booking but the only difference is
you're outside," said Gary McClary, 24, who went to the trailer at the new
site on Sunday.

          O'Malley said if groups persist in handing out food in front of
City Hall, they will be issued citations. He said he's not trying to "hide
the homeless," as advocates suggest, but that the "nightly feedings are not
conducive" to business at City Hall.

          "There is no fear of image," he said. He also said he wasn't
implying last week that he'd rather see the homeless fed in Towson.

          "If I wanted them to eat in Towson, I wouldn't have set up the
alternate site, nor I would be taking the political hits that I'm now going
to take on for creating day resource centers," O'Malley said. "We don't
shirk our responsibilities here. We address them."

          Meanwhile, at City Hall Monday, a group of 13 protesters from the
American Council of the Blind of Maryland accused the city of going back on
a promise to install audible traffic signals for blind pedestrians at four
intersections by this month.

          Tony White, a spokesman for O'Malley, said the city has not yet
installed the signals because of a disagreement between the council and
another organization, the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland,
about which intersections should get the signals.

          White said he expects some signals to be installed by spring.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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FWD  Baltimore Sun - 13 December 2000
     Officials want site for aid to homeless away from City Hall
     Order is termed 'an insult'

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