Pugh has plan for homeless encampment | WYPR

Pugh has plan for homeless encampment

Aug 23, 2017

Homeless encampment and demonstration outside of Baltimore City Hall.
Credit Dominique Maria Bonessi

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced a plan today for a permanent solution for those homeless people camped out in front of city hall to seek housing. The mayor says she looked to charitable organizations for help. 

Baltimore natives, George Isaac and Charlene Ware, are two of the 100 homeless people who have been camped out in red tents in front of city hall for the past eight days. The engaged couple has been together for seven years and homeless for eight.

"Me I lost my job," says Isaac. "Her, her family was stealing her money and mistreating her.”

Isaac translates for Ware, who has been deaf since birth and speaks sign language. The couple says they want the mayor to provide housing for those who need it and those who can keep it.

“That’s what we’re fighting for because people don't want us living together," says Isaac.

In response to the demonstration, Pugh said today she has called on Goodwill and other organizations to provide services to the homeless in the encampment.

“What I want is a resolution because you know it is illegal for them to be out there in the first place, but I want a quiet resolution," said Pugh. "Because we want to make sure they get permanent housing as quickly as they can.”

Pugh's plan would move the homeless currently at city hall to temporary housing and then try to find permanent housing afterwards. But many of the organizers of the demonstration say they are hesitant to have the homeless move into temporary housing.

Kenneth Gween, one of the lead organizers with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is sponsoring the homeless in tents. He says the goal is to look for a permanent solution.

"Our goal here is to not just fight," says Gween. "We want to create and make sure we have access to opportunities, and I'm hoping to be able to do that sooner rather than later."

Antion Barnes sits in the shade line of trees. The 56-year-old Baltimore native is waiting to be moved into permanent housing.

"It is hot out here," says Barnes. "The mayor needs to come out here and tell us what her plan is to get us into housing."

With temperatures climbing into the mid-80s today, many of the homeless have resorted to camping under the trees in front of city hall still waiting for permanent housing.