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Women’s Housing Coalition 39 Years Later

We are coming up on our 39th year serving women and their families in need. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect back on how far we’ve come as an organization, and how far we still have to go as a nation.

The Women’s Housing Coalition (WHC) was founded in 1979 by a group of women who were distressed by the number of homeless women in Baltimore City. By 1980, this group of women began finding buildings where women living on the streets could go to have a chance at a fresh start.

In 1990, WHC opened Maryland’s first single room occupancy (SRO) project for the homeless and also the first permanent housing facility for homeless women. That residence, the Calverton, is still owned and operated by WHC today.

Since then, we have developed a program that integrates housing and supportive services. This is because we believe that the best response to such barriers is permanent housing combined with the targeted supportive services that help women stay on the path of personal development and growth. Services that we offer include everything from personal development classes, to budgeting classes, to daycare.

WHC was started by a group of women who saw the critical need for housing for women who had no other options – women who were making minimum wage, working 40 hours a week, and who couldn’t afford to even rent a one-bedroom apartment and keep food on the table. That need still exists, and some may say the need is even greater today.

The gap between the amount of affordable housing available and the number of people in need of it is absolutely staggering. Rental prices continue to skyrocket with no end in site, and affordable housing vouchers are extremely hard to come by. We help make a dent in the number of women living in Baltimore who may otherwise be homeless, or not be able to provide for their children. We’re actively working to grow and help to solve the issues that Baltimore faces, but we’re only one piece of the puzzle.

Use your voice to speak up about the housing crisis facing Baltimore and the nation. Let’s work together to end the cycle of homelessness. Learn more about WHC and donate to our cause.

Homeless Encampment Under 83 Cleared By City

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.