Baltimore, Maryland, like many other large cities, has a problem with the growing number of homeless people. Unfortunately, many of these people are simply down on their luck. Without work, there is no way to afford housing, and without housing, people end up sleeping on the streets.
Urging Landlords to Step Up
To battle the homeless situation in Baltimore, Director Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey with the Mayor’s Office of Human Services feels that a greater number of landlords needs to step up to help with supportive housing.
Recently, Duval-Harvey stated that efforts were underway for the Housing First model, designed to help homeless people find appropriate housing and at the same time receive critical care for things like substance abuse, mental health, disabilities, and so on. Those who support the Housing First model strongly feel that it actually prevents people from returning to a lifestyle of being homeless, since underlying problems are addressed.
The Federal government, as well as several private parties in Baltimore, promote the Housing First model, which is overseen by Baltimore city officials. As expressed by Duval-Harvey, more private landlords should be willing to take housing vouchers. With this, homeless tenants have the ability to choose homes in which to live—those where they feel most comfortable and safe.
Unfortunately, getting landlords to participate in the Housing First model has been tough. After all, many property owners are not keen on the idea of a having a homeless person as a tenant. As expected, these landlords have honest concerns about property destruction and the property becoming a drug house or perhaps a place for criminals to congregate.
In an effort to get more landlords onboard in battling the homeless problem, Duval-Harvey, along with Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, promoted a number of efforts. This emphasis came just days after questions were raised as to whether or not the city would reduce the temperature at which cold-weather emergency shelters open.
Both private and city providers have been willing to boost capacity at existing shelters to roughly 1,400, up from 1,190. In addition, a new overflow shelter for the cold winter months will provide the homeless with an additional 250 beds. However, these beds only become available when temperature, as well as wind chill factor, drops below 32 degrees.
In the meantime, vouchers for the Housing First model will increase from 650 in 2014 to 850 for 2016. The number of vouchers for people leaving incarceration will also jump from 200 to 250. Along with this, new permanent housing unit will become available. At this time, 11 units are ready, but within the next 18 months, an additional 102 units will open. With more than 2,000 homeless people in the city of Baltimore, it is evident that every resource is essential.
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