Homelessness is not a crime [Letter]

Regarding your recent report on vacant housing in Baltimore, yes, vacant houses are a problem, but don't confuse them with the problem of homelessness ("Baltimore vacants are linked to crime, as are other indicators," Aug. 7).

Broken windows, boarded up doors, and overgrown weeds devalue surrounding homes. However, most people are homeless because they cannot afford the costs associated with housing. Homelessness itself is not a crime nor does it necessarily lead to criminal activity.


Our Ark Preschool serves 3- and 4-year-old children who are homeless. Every day, we work side by side with families who are trying to work their way out of homelessness. Far from the link made between vacant homes, crime and homelessness, families associated with The Ark are pulling their lives back together.

A few parents are employed and some are looking for jobs. Even a minimum wage job does not guarantee that a family can move out of homelessness. In a recent report on poverty and living wages, researchers at MIT concluded that an average family of four needs to earn $21.90 per hour, or just slightly more than $45,000 a year, to sustain a living wage in Baltimore City.


Let's focus on fixing the real problems that contribute to homelessness and stop unfairly characterizing as criminals people who simply want a home to call their own.

Nancy Fenton, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Episcopal Community Services of Maryland Ark Preschool.


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