The Baltimore Sun

City has pledged to support shelter

In the article "Residents support city's homeless shelter plans" (Feb. 2), reporter Annie Linskey answers her own question as to why the Mount Vernon neighborhood supported the city's new homeless shelter by suggesting that the community was bought off by promises from the city to improve parks, lighting and roads in the neighborhood.

But while the improvements offered by the city are helpful in the effort to improve the community, Ms. Linskey omitted several other factors that led to our support of the plan.

These include the fact that the community created a shelter study committee composed of people with expertise in this field. The city also agreed to hire Morgan State University to conduct a study on best practices and the likely impact of the center on Mount Vernon.

The shelter committee spoke with people in other city communities that have hosted emergency shelters and visited the city's temporary shelter on Guilford Avenue.

Over the last year, the committee has also worked closely with the city to develop a positive relationship rooted in the city's intent to create a system that will result in the best possible outcomes for homeless people.

For instance, part of our agreement with the city is that the city will focus on finding permanent housing for shelter residents and has promised to reduce the size of the shelter if funding or services for the shelter are reduced.

There will also be green space for shelter residents and a community advisory council.

Without this kind of process, no amount of concessions would have been enough to gain the support of the community.

Shawn Terrell, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Shelter Study Committee for the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association.

Broken pipes remind us where we should invest

The rash of water main breaks that have recently afflicted residents and businesses in Montgomery County, Prince George's County and now Baltimore shows the urgency of fixing the infrastructure in our established communities ("Washed out," Feb. 9).

Yet three-quarters of the residential land developed in Maryland since 1990 has been outside zones targeted for growth, in areas without the infrastructure to support development.

So we've had to build new roads, schools, sewer and water lines and other infrastructure in those areas while neglecting infrastructure in historic communities like Mount Vernon.

Smart Growth begins with investing in the needs of our already existing neighborhoods.

Douglas Stewart, Baltimore

The writer is communications director for 1000 Friends of Maryland.

House bill does more to revive economy

We are well into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and the press is still covering the stimulus debate as if it were sports match ("Obama: Delay invites disaster," Feb. 10). But here are some basic facts:

The overwhelming majority of economists agree on the need for a large infusion of government spending to create demand and stop the economy's downward slide.

The less we do now and the longer we wait, the worse the situation is going to get. If former President George W. Bush had acted last fall, we wouldn't need as big a stimulus package now.

The House bill is far superior to the Senate bill because it contains more spending that offers a bigger bang for the buck (i.e., school construction, aid to states to stop layoffs, food stamps) and fewer tax cuts to people likely just to put the money under their mattress.

We desperately need action, and we need it now.

Elisabeth Kato, Columbia

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