Disability aid down, and homelessness goes up


Here's a number for you - 1,168. It has nothing to do with Cal. Nor is it the number of cops and federal agents assigned to the pope's visit. (That number is closer to 1,000.) Nor is it the number of taxpayer dollars used to buy that new sofa in the governor's fancy Baltimore office. (The actual cost was $2,650.)

One-thousand-one-hundred-sixty-eight is the number of evictions in Baltimore in August. About 37 a day. "An exceptionally high number," a city constable says. August is usually a busy month for evictions, averaging 965 in both 1993 and 1994. But this August, the number of times city constables actually removed people and/or furniture from rented Baltimore domiciles reached 1,168. Why the increase? I've a hunch.

Until July 1, the state of Maryland granted $157 a month to men and women who were certified as poor and too disabled to work. The monthly grant wasn't much, but it kept thousands of those poor, disabled Marylanders from becoming homeless.

However, in one of his first acts as governor, Parris Glendening dismissed the grants as "welfare" and announced the elimination of the Disability Assistance and Loan Program, designed to provide a financial bridge for poor people who had applied for federal disability benefits. In July, DALP was replaced with a program that gives less money and medical help to fewer people. The mayor of Baltimore, where the DALP cuts hurt the most, called Glendening's action "a man-made disaster." He raised the issue again the other day when he cited the findings of a daytime street survey conducted by the Downtown Partnership. It showed a 65 percent increase in homeless people between June, before the DALP cut, and August, just after it. The survey reportedly found a tripling of homeless women on downtown streets. "At Health Care For The Homeless," adds Jeff Singer, spokesman for that agency, "demand for our services has increased 57 percent since the end of DALP." And there were 1,168 evictions in the month of August - a lot of people turned out, and a lot of furniture on the street. The governor should have picked up some chairs for his new digs.

Consider Anna's House

Small works of charity are suggested for anyone, Catholic or otherwise, who needs to spiritually prepare for the pope's visit. Cardinal Keeler has made the revivalist suggestion that people in the Baltimore Archdiocese abstain from meat on Fridays. But he's also suggested prayer and charity, according to the Rev. Michael J. White, his secretary. "Typically, in Catholic spirituality, fasting and prayer especially dispose the individual to works of charity," Father White says.

Today's suggestion: Anna's House, a small shelter for women and children in Harford County, affiliated with Catholic Charities. "A lot of people in Harford County still don't know we're here," says Barbara Jones, the director. There are four women and five children there right now. Anna's House serves women who become homeless for all the usual reasons - abuse, poverty, family problems - and then some. The Anna's House wish list: Soap products, paper towels, trash bags, gift certificates for clothes and shoes, and toiletries. Baby sitters are needed, too. Many of the families that stay at Anna's House get welfare, but federal cuts have reduced their day care subsidies. If the women of Anna's House are to attend classes, look for jobs or train for them - in short, better themselves - they need someone to watch their kids. If you want to help, call 836-1688.

Figure this move

Back in June, Mayor Schmoke picked John Sundergill, director of economic development for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., to take charge of the city's economic development agency. Now BGE plans to move its corporate headquarters out of Baltimore. Go figure that one.

Speaking of excitement

Need a speaker to liven up a boring luncheon meeting? Can't afford Colin Powell? Johnny Cochran's schedule won't allow it? George Will won't return your calls? Try the Maryland Department of Transportation. DOT has a speaker's bureau offering a series of "public affairs presentations" for community associations, schools and business groups. Here are some of the suggested topics on a DOT flier:

"The Intermodal Surface Transportation Act And Other Federal Regulations."

"Farebox Recovery and Transit Service In An Era Of Cost Containment."

"Maryland's Marvelous Money Tree: How The Tollways Enrich Our Lives."

"More Than Driving, Pouring and Snow Removal: 66 Exciting Careers In Transportation."

"Creating Cost-Effective, State-of-the-Art Answers To Questions That Have Yet To Be Asked."

And, best of all: "How Transportation Policy Is Made And Implemented: Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Transportation Planning But Were Too Busy (Or Intimidated) To Ask."

Imagine being too intimidated to ask a transportation question.

Contact This Just In at 332-6166.

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