Tent city participants say Pugh is "doing her best" | WYPR

Tent city participants say Pugh is "doing her best"

Oct 9, 2017

Tent city has been moved to the former William Pinderhughes Elementary School in the Upton neighborhood of West Baltimore
Credit Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore activists sharply criticized Mayor Catherine Pugh last week, tweeting she hadn’t done enough for tent city residents staying at the old Pinderhughes Elementary School. But the reality on the ground is different.

Last week the mayor said she moved 25 of 65 people from temporary housing at the school at 1200 North Fremont Avenue into permanent housing. But tweets from Baltimore BLOC charged she wasn’t moving fast enough to meet the needs.

Samantha Smith, the appointed director of tent city, says that’s not so.

“When it all boils down to it," says Smith. "The mayor has been nothing but supportive in this movement.”

And Calvin Thornton, a tent city participant agrees.

“Even though the mayor has a lot on her plate, she is doing the best she can to help us," says Thornton.

Regardless of the misconceptions and misunderstandings, Valerie Bond, another tent city resident says, they look out for each other.

“We take turns in making sure we’re keeping the building clean. Making sure the clothes are washed, and people keep up with their appointments and things," says Bond. "And we really seriously need housing I mean this is okay for now, but there is nothing like having your own.”

Samantha Smith says the ultimate goal is to get these individuals housed. Pugh is expected to release her strategy to do that Wednesday.