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Restore aid to disabled, mayor asks


In a last-minute effort to get more aid for some of Baltimore's neediest residents, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is urging Gov. Parris N. Glendening to substantially restore money the governor cut from the state budget to provide subsistence allowances to thousands of disabled adults.

"This is a man-made disaster that is about to hit our state, and you have the power to prevent it," Mr. Schmoke wrote to Mr. Glendening, in a letter hand-delivered Tuesday and released by the mayor's aides yesterday.

After meeting with Mr. Glendening yesterday afternoon on an unspecified economic development matter, Mr. Schmoke said in a statement: "He has shown a willingness to develop a creative solution."

But a Glendening spokeswoman said last night that while the governor has instructed several department heads to examine Mr. Schmoke's concerns, he has not committed to find additional funds.

"That's something that has not been determined," spokeswoman Dianna Rosborough said.

In his letter to the governor Tuesday, Mr. Schmoke said elimination of the $35 million Disability Assistance Loan Program in the fiscal year that begins July 1 represented a "draconian reduction in support." Ending the program would lead to sharp increases in homelessness, petty crime and emergency health care costs in Baltimore, the mayor said.

Mr. Glendening scratched the DALP program, which provided $157 a month in cash payments to recipients, and a related $13 million clinical health program from his initial budget, saying the state could no longer afford them. After heavy criticism from advocates for the poor and disabled, he presented supplemental appropriations, providing $10 million in housing vouchers for disabled adults and $6.9 million for a reduced health care program.

Mr. Schmoke noted in his letter to the governor that he had "written and spoken to you several times" about the impact of getting rid of the DALP program.

Aides to Mr. Schmoke said yesterday that the mayor avoided raising concern publicly over the elimination of the DALP program until now because he did not want to embarrass Mr. Glendening during the governor's inaugural legislative session.

Mr. Schmoke was an early and staunch supporter of Mr. Glendening's bid for governor. Since the election, Mr. Schmoke has often said that in Gov. Glendening the city has "a friend in the State House." For his part, Mr. Glendening has reinforced that view by appointing several Baltimore officials to key state positions.

Also, Mr. Schmoke wanted to wait until members of his administration had been able to calculate just how sharp the impact of the reductions in aid would be before pressing his case to restore funding.

Yvonne D. Gilchrist, acting director of the city's Department of Social Services, said yesterday that the impact would be severe.

Of 16,400 Baltimore residents receiving DALP payments, nearly 5,000 would receive no aid at all under Mr. Glendening's scaled-down housing voucher program, she said. The city has nearly three-quarters of the state's 22,000 DALP recipients.

Of the remainder, 10,900 would get housing vouchers of just $50 a month, she said, while another 500 would get rental assistance of $125 per month.

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