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Carson's Baltimore visit is confusing

Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, visits Baltimore Friday for tour of an addiction recovery facility as part of President Trump's efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun video)

The Sun article on Ben Carson's recent visit to Baltimore left me confused ("Ben Carson visits Baltimore for tour of addiction recovery facility", Oct. 26). While Helping Up Mission does great work for the community, it's baffling that Dr. Carson did not visit an organization funded by his own department, nor one that is in line with current funding priorities. HUD's current focus is funding housing first programs. These move the homeless immediately from the streets or homeless shelters into their own apartments, and the policy devalues transitional housing. Also, housing first does not require the person housed to be sober or participate in services offered. Housing first is a useful tool in fighting homelessness, but is not the best intervention for all.

HUD cuts in 2016 defunded 17 transitional housing programs in Baltimore and many others throughout the country, many of which provide wrap-around services within a sober environment, like Helping Up. As Dr. Carson told The Sun, "A lot of people who become addicted, secondarily, because of the consequences of that, become homeless." Yet, HUD's current focus will continue to defund programs whose mission is to house and simultaneously provide substance abuse treatment. I for one, do not believe our opioid epidemic will be helped by HUD's current priorities.

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Katie Allston, Baltimore

The writer is Executive Director of the Marian House.

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