'Relay' fast vowed until funds restored

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Advocates for the state's poor yesterday vowed to continue a "relay" fast until Gov. Parris N. Glendening restores a program that helped the jobless disabled.

The $48 million Disability Assistance and Loan Program (DALP) was scrapped by the state July 1 and replaced by a new program that gives less money and medical help to fewer people.

As a result, advocates said, many of the 22,000 former DALP recipients statewide face homelessness and hunger. "It's too easy for me to participate in a fast when there are parents who do not know where their child's next meal is coming," said City Councilman Carl Stokes of East Baltimore, who pledged to fast for the day. "This is beyond outrageous."

About a dozen people gathered outside City Hall in Baltimore to announce the protest.

About 60 volunteers have been recruited for the effort since the fast began July 1. Most go without food for one day.

"Every day there will be at least two or three people fasting until [Governor Glendening] decides to restore the DALP program," said Ann Ciekot, acting director of Action for the Homeless.

Activist Lin Romano, who broke a 31-day protest fast yesterday, said people can't possibly find housing on the $50 and $125 monthly rental vouchers the state now offers former DALP recipients.

"Does anybody know of housing that's decent for that price?" she said.

DALP had provided recipients with monthly payments of $157.

Jeff Singer of Health Care for the Homeless said he knows of at least 25 people who have been made homeless by the budget cut. He said there probably are more, but it is difficult to keep track of them.

Mr. Stokes applauded the advocates for "making people uncomfortable." The protesters have promised to shadow the governor at his public appearances until he increases funding for the poor by $30 million.

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