Recently, you may have heard that the city of Baltimore broken up several homeless encampments. In particular, the one that was situated under the Interstate 83 overpass. In the span of six hours, all persons and their possessions were cleared out.
Twenty-five people were moved into a temporary housing program, while others decided to stay in downtown emergency shelters, with several walking away … with no plans or destination.
It was announced two weeks prior that the encampment would be cleared, due to unclean conditions, dangerous behavior and the risk of hypothermia in cold weather. While this is portrayed as humane, it is not a great outcome for those people who are experiencing homelessness. In fact, in reality, it actually makes it harder on the individuals involved. Removing trash and/or providing spot a pots could be just as humane.
Many occupants did not want to be transferred to the temporary housing program, citing a distrust of the system and the program. Temporary housing programs are sometimes known for being unsafe. Negative experiences and violence are common in these programs, so some feel safer living on the streets. Several of those that chose temporary housing are already back on the street.
Not only this, but clearing encampments just to transfer to temporary housing is only a band-aid over a broken bone. It does nothing to solve the problem of the lack of affordable housing here in Baltimore; it only temporarily eases the anxieties of those who don’t want to see the problem.