The Baltimore Sun

Charity isn't enough to help the homeless

We empathize with the challenges faced by St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in working with well-intentioned members of the community to end homelessness, and the reflections some church leaders offered in "The challenge of charity" (Commentary, Jan. 30) illustrate the limits of charity, the promise of social justice and the importance of pursuing both.

Three years ago, in collaboration with the city, we helped more than two dozen people leave St. Vincent Park and move into permanent housing. Many had lived on the streets for a decade; most were disabled. Today, 90 percent of those people remain stably housed.

Thanks to the church's collaboration with Baltimore Homeless Services and others, more individuals will be assisted using this Housing First approach - an approach so effective that it has become the underlying philosophy of the mayor's "Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness."

The documented success of Housing First illuminates the primary causes of contemporary homelessness: grinding poverty, poor health and the woeful shortage of affordable housing. The current economic crisis only exacerbates these problems as an increasing number of individuals and families find sanctuary in places like St. Vincent Park.

The charity of a sandwich or clothing may prevent people from starving or freezing this winter - and if ever charitable acts were needed, they're required now.

But collectively we must expend even greater effort to ensure affordable housing, accessible health care and sustainable incomes for all our neighbors. Kevin Lindamood Jeff Singer, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, a vice president and the president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Reward talented kids with merit scholarships

Sandy Baum, a senior policy analyst at the College Board, suggests that tuition freezes should be contingent on income and that Maryland families earning $100,000 or $150,000 a year could afford to pay another $1,000 for college ("Freeze in Md. tuition could be tough sell," Feb. 1).

This might make sense at a private university. But at Maryland public schools, these wealthier families are already paying a premium for education through higher taxes.

Ms. Baum states that "the most important thing is providing access to people who otherwise wouldn't have it." But this is not correct.

To keep our state universities competitive, the most important thing is to attract the highest-caliber students with merit scholarships.

David Plaut, Reisterstown

Courts must reject profiling lawsuit

So CASA de Maryland has filed a lawsuit accusing customs agents of racial profiling ("Video said to show agents unfairly targeted Latinos," Jan. 30).

We have more than 10 million illegal immigrants in the United States, many of whom are from Hispanic nations. So to try and control illegal immigrants or deport them for being here illegally, officers are conducting raids in areas where there appear to be illegal immigrants.

CASA says this is wrong because they are checking only groups of people who look like Hispanics or are in areas Hispanics frequent. But where else would one go to find Hispanic illegal immigrants?

If this lawsuit isn't thrown out of court in five seconds, our country is definitely headed for self-annihilation.

August Nicastro, Forest Hill

Let new management revive the Senator

I would just like to add my voice to those who believe that the Senator Theatre has been mismanaged long enough and that no more public money should be given to it ("Nonprofit would mean key changes at Senator," Jan. 29).

I wrote to the theater a year ago asking why it does not offer reduced prices for matinees and for seniors. The management never wrote back, and it still charges the same price at all times, even as its competitors offer discounts to attract a larger audience.

The result is that my wife and I have not gone to any of Senator owner Tom Kiefaber's theaters in three years.

So even though we go to the movies at least once a week, that money is lost to Mr. Kiefaber as a result of poor management.

Let these theaters close down so that someone else can then run them.

Ron Roth, Baltimore

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