The Baltimore Sun

Few Sun readers should be surprised by the results of the latest Baltimore homelessness census ("City's chronically homeless on rise," Sept. 15).

As Julie Scharper reports, the census found that 50 percent of the estimated 3,000 individuals found without housing on the cold January day the census was conducted had been homeless for more than one year, and that 25 percent had been without housing more than three years.

Baltimore no longer can afford a housing policy that, at best, ignores the needs of our poorest and most vulnerable neighbors.

Downtown businesses are eager to find alternatives for the individuals sleeping in their doorways; public officials are anxious to relieve parks of the burdens associated with camp sites. Most important, the individuals who must sleep out of doors in rain, heat and cold are desperate for safe and decent housing.

Ameliorating homelessness requires aggressive and creative action by the public, for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

But we could begin by aiming for 100 percent occupancy of the city's public housing.

The latest CitiStat data indicate that 954 units of public housing are habitable but vacant in the city.

Using this resource more effectively could provide homes to all of the 750 Baltimoreans who have been without housing for more than three years.

It also would demonstrate - in deed and not only in word - our commitment to ending the tragedy of homelessness.

Jeff Singer


The writer is president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless.

Dismissing concerns shows police hubris

Thank you for the enlightening article on police shootings in Baltimore ("Shootings by police climb," Sept. 16). But I wonder: How can a Police Department spokesman honestly suggest, as The Sun characterized his position, that "none of this year's cases has been questionable"?

Our city's police officers may be doing a commendable job in light of the life-threatening scenarios they must face daily. Yet often it appears that a police shooting or killing is unwarranted, such as in the case of individuals who turn out to be innocent of serious crimes or who exhibit mental illness.

For a police spokesman to suggest that such a killing isn't questionable evinces the very hubris and insensitivity that may have occasioned the shooting in the first place.

When the taking of a life seems to be so categorically justified, at any moment a police officer can become judge, jury and executioner.

Tracy Stott


Police act to protect officers, community

Members of my community meet monthly with police officers from the city's Eastern District to iron out community problems. The officers are very accommodating and protect our neighborhood from drug dealers, loiterers and others.

But certain members of this community, and many other communities, are just plain killers who have no regard for life - their own or others.

We expect the police to protect not only us but also themselves. And if they have to use their weapons to do so, then so be it.

That's why there is "no outcry from the community over the number of shootings involving police officers" ("Shootings by police climb," Sept. 16).

The police are doing the job for which they have been trained - and protecting others as well as themselves.

Grace Y. Jones


The writer is president of the Broadway Development Association.

Governor reveals tax-and-spend colors

Gov. Martin O'Malley proposes to raise the sales tax, increase income tax rates for top earners, raise the titling tax on cars, set up slots parlors, increase cigarette taxes, etc. ("O'Malley presents his fiscal proposal," Sept. 19).

The people who really will be hurt by this are the lowest-paid folks in the state - especially the families struggling to cope with high utility costs, sky-high gas prices, increased food bills and the cost of clothing for growing kids.

Mr. O'Malley is showing his true colors as a dyed-in-the-wool tax-and-spend Democrat.

I hope the people who voted for him (and I did not) will be happy with the outcome.

Charles Whieldon


Truly, Gov. Martin O'Malley is former Gov. Parris N. Glendening's successor.

Our state is going into the red from his party's excessive spending.

Only a Democrat would try to solve problems of excessive government spending and burdensome taxes by imposing more spending and more taxes upon people who are being taxed too much as it is.

Come 2010, Maryland taxpayers will have the chance to settle their accounts by voting Mr. O'Malley out of office.

M. Norman Ryan

Bel Air

At least O'Malley offers budget plan

I'm glad Gov. Martin O'Malley has some kind of concrete plan for fixing the state's structural deficit ("O'Malley presents his fiscal proposal," Sept. 19).

I believe his new fiscal proposal to be tough but fair. But we can expect the Republicans to oppose his plan for the sake of opposition, while lacking a plan of their own.

Down in Washington, the GOP has no realistic plans to deal with immigration, no realistic plans to deal with health care and no realistic plans to deal with the wars.

So it comes as no surprise to this writer that here in Maryland, the GOP has no real plan to deal with the budget shortfall - one that was caused in part by our former Republican governor's failures.

In their weakened state, the Republicans have reverted to hollow contrarianism.

Rather than help fix the state's problems, many Republicans would rather smugly declare: "Don't blame me, I voted for Ehrlich."

J. D. Lovejoy


Close Rosewood to protect residents

As a parent of a son who has cognitive disabilities, I am shocked and saddened that the governor has not protected the safety of the people with developmental disabilities currently living at the Rosewood Center by closing that institution ("Won't close Rosewood, Colmers says," Sept. 15).

Our most vulnerable children and adults deserve safe and caring places to live within our communities.

There are excellent community-based alternatives to Rosewood, which is a dangerous, antiquated, extremely expensive facility that should be closed immediately.

Beth Greenland


Would evils ensue if gays could marry?

I don't understand the furor over gay marriage ("Decision stuns plaintiffs," Sept. 19).

What terrible things will happen when we finally recognize gays' right to marry?

Will they get married? Raise families? File taxes jointly, make medical decisions for each other and inherit each other's property? Live their lives free of discrimination?

Oh, the horror.

Judi Hammett


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