LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Limited housing adds to ranks of the homeless

We were glad to hear that the Housing Authority of Baltimore City is changing its policy about admitting people with histories of felony and misdemeanor crimes to public housing ("City seeks to change housing policy," Nov. 17). This can only be a positive step in a city with thousands of ex-offenders.

Unfortunately, criminal history is only one factor in keeping single adults with disabilities out of public housing. A second obstacle is the scarcity of efficiency and one-bedroom units.

Over the past decade, the housing authority has worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to eliminate an enormous number of units designed for single people. The renowned HOPE VI program, which replaced aging high-rises with mixed-income developments, displaced more than 1,000 single adults.

It is not surprising, given such numbers, that so many low-income individuals become homeless, and that they have so few housing options.

The health of our communities and our city's future require that we develop more inclusive housing policies.

Lauren Siegel

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Fair Housing Coalition.

Arresting homeless won't cure their woes

Here's a novel question: If you pass a law that makes it illegal to panhandle at night, or to lie or sleep on a sidewalk, or to sit on public walkways for more than an hour, where will people panhandle ("City Council considers limits on panhandlers," Nov. 18)?

Where will they lie or sleep at night if they are homeless? Will the Downtown Partnership provide these people housing and other necessities?

And doesn't the U.S. Constitution have any relevance?

Olatunji Mwamba

Baltimore

Bush is wrong again on Medicare reform

President Bush was wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he was wrong when he said, "Bring 'em on," and he was deadly wrong when he said from the deck of an aircraft carrier that major hostilities in Iraq were over.

So why would we believe him when he tells us that the Medicare reform bill being debated in Congress will be good for senior citizens?

John D. Venables

Towson

Push to privatize threatens seniors

For the AARP, one of the largest senior citizen groups in America, to strongly support this Medicare reform bill and tell its membership that it will help millions of older Americans and their families, tells me that it has sold out to the powerful pharmaceutical and insurance companies here in America ("Fight looms in final Medicare votes," Nov. 18).

If seniors don't stand up and let our voices be heard but instead let the AARP speak for us, it will only be a matter of time before the AARP is telling us that privatizing Medicare will benefit seniors. Then will come privatizing Social Security.

Don't let the AARP destroy Medicare in your name.

LeRoy R. McClelland Sr.

Essex

Sales tax increases hurt poor people

I know that Maryland's tax-and-spend Democrats will strong-arm increases in taxes through the legislature during the next session.

But I have but one request: Please get it across to them that income taxes and property taxes can at least be used as deductions on the federal tax returns; sales tax increases hit lower-income groups harder than the wealthy.

Jim Bard

Westminster

Gay couples deserve benefits of marriage

I applaud the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for its decision in favor of gay and lesbian civil marriages ("Mass. court overturns ban on gay marriage," Nov. 19). All stable couples who want to legally join their lives together should be allowed all the benefits of civil marriage.

The state has an obligation to help stabilize society. Thus it offers many benefits to married couples, such as inheritance of property without inheritance tax and pension and Social Security benefits being automatically transferred to a surviving spouse.

These benefits and many others help the widowed spouse stay financially stable. But these benefits are not available to committed gay couples, and the Massachusetts court was right to ameliorate this injustice.

Let's hope Maryland legislators have the courage to follow suit.

Kevin Jordan

Columbia

Court usurps right to define liberty

Regardless of your opinion of gay marriage, the actions of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court should give everyone pause ("Mass. court overturns ban on gay marriage," Nov. 19).

The Massachusetts court's activism is extraordinary and an extremely dangerous precedent. Contending that a right to gay marriage exists within the state's constitution leaves the door wide open for the manufacturing of rights that the courts will justify based on subscribing to some nebulous notion of "individual liberty."

The question is: Who sets the limits of individual liberty, the people or the courts?

In Massachusetts, the courts think they do.

It is time for the people to stem the tide of judicial activism by sending a loud and clear message to their representatives in government about how they want to be governed and take back power from a judiciary that verges on despotism.

Scott Appelbaum

Catonsville

Worthy effort to stop substance abuse

The Parents' Council of Greater Baltimore wholeheartedly supports the initiative to make our school communities safe from substance abuse and other dangerous teen-age behaviors ("Nine private schools join forces to fight teen drinking, drug use," Nov. 17).

The Parents' Council believes that there are many parents who oppose underage substance abuse and want to make every effort to prevent their children from taking those risks.

The action the leaders of these nine schools have taken will speak for that silent majority and, we hope, give them the courage to express their views more openly.

We applaud the courage of these school leaders and their effort, which sends a powerful message to our community.

Laurie Kelly Carmel Locey Baltimore

The writers are co-presidents of the Parents' Council of Greater Baltimore.

Confronting murder with steadfast faith

How heartening to read the story of the Meyers brothers' journey through the aftermath of their brother's murder ("Look for Good," Nov. 15).

In today's world, they could have exploited this tragedy on any number of radio or television talk shows while exploring book deals or movie rights.

Instead, they have chosen to deal with it through their steadfast faith, and in so doing have permitted us all to benefit from their strength.

Ernestine Schmidt

Towson

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