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Baltimore needs housing, not dorms

The Volunteers of America Chesapeake is serving 24 people in collaboration with the city through a new $1.5 million temporary housing program in the 5000 block of E. Monument Street. Mayor Catherine Pugh toured the site Thursday, meeting with residents and learning more about the program.

We couldn't agree more with Lauren Siegel and Jeff Singer when they wrote: "Leave encampments alone; focus on developing affordable housing in Baltimore (“Leave Baltimore's encampments alone,” Jan. 23).

Baltimore City government acted with urgency last Friday when it cleared the encampment on Guilford Avenue. However, city officials have not acted with urgency in addressing the root cause of the problem to begin with — a lack of affordable housing in our city. The statistics have been repeated over and over again: There are 38 affordable housing units available to every 100 poor families. There are over 3,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Baltimore, not even including the people who are double-up and couch surfing.

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One hundred fifty thousand evictions are filed through rent court annually. These numbers are alarming and appalling. The good news is that Baltimore voters already developed a solution to the problem. Last November, 83 percent of voters, or 180,000 city residents, voted to create the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Over 14 months later, Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore City Council have yet to put a dime in the trust fund, or commit creative and new revenue streams to fund affordable housing.

We appreciate the support of the 20/20 Campaign, but the time is now for action. #fundthetrust

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Anthony Williams and Rachel Kutler, Baltimore

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