Funds to disabled halted, despite Schmoke plea


Despite a last-minute appeal from Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, the state will carry out its plan to eliminate monthly payments to disabled adults beginning July 1, an official with Gov. Parris N. Glendening's office said yesterday.

To soften the blow, however, the governor's office said the state would appropriate an additional $1.2 million to help disabled people pay for housing.

"The governor is committed to having no homelessness," said Carolyn Davis, a deputy chief of staff who oversees human resources.

Ms. Davis told legislators about the extra money at a hearing on the issue yesterday in Annapolis. But the amount fell far short of what the mayor had requested.

It also did little to win over legislators and advocates for the poor who have criticized Mr. Glendening's plan to cut the state's $35 million Disability Assistance Loan Program.

"It's a drop in the bucket," said Karla R. Roskos, a registered nurse who chairs an advisory board of medical providers who serve the program's recipients.

"We estimate there will be another 1,000 homeless people on the street daily," said Mr. Schmoke, who nonetheless thanked the governor for his willingness to consider additional funding.

During the legislative session earlier this year, Mr. Glendening eliminated the DALP program, which has provided $157 a month in cash payments to 21,000 disabled recipients. The governor also cut a related $13 million clinical health program, saying the state could not afford it nor DALP.

Under heavy criticism from advocates for the poor, Mr. Glendening later agreed to provide $10 million in housing vouchers for disabled adults and $6.9 million for a reduced health care program.

Lynda Fox, an official with the state Department of Human Resources, said the governor agreed to the additional $1.2 million after the mayor and officials around Maryland raised concerns about increased homelessness because of the cuts.

Mr. Schmoke had remained largely mute in public when the issue was decided in Annapolis over the winter. Last week, however, the mayor urged Mr. Glendening to substantially restore funding.

Mr. Schmoke, who is running for re-election in the city's Sept. 12 Democratic primary, warned that ending the DALP program would lead to sharp increases in homelessness, petty crime and emergency health care in Baltimore, where at least 70 percent of its recipients live.

"The savings that the state thought it was going to get from this program is illusory," the mayor said yesterday.

The governor will ask the legislature for the additional $1.2 million before the end of the fiscal year that ends next June, officials said. Ms. Fox said the administration will monitor how the replacement program is working in the coming months and adjust the budget request as necessary. "We're going to be tracking that carefully because we want to make sure that everybody gets assistance who needs it," she said.

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