It sickens me that some people in charge of homeless services and shelters become spin doctors telling stories rather than blatant truths.
It angers me to the core that a man had to die for the conversation about violence in the city’s shelter to get the city to notice.
“Dana” as he was known will be another name added for Homeless Person’s Memorial Day this year.
My friend, Tony Simmons and others who knew him are planning a vigil. His death according to severalwitness accounts might have been prevented had the staff intervened. According to Simmons, Dana’s killer had been previously banned from the shelter. Why he was allowed back in is a question we keep asking?
We at BHFA (Bmore Housing for All) hear accounts of brutality by the staff on clients and client-on-client violence every Tuesday when we meet. The stabbing death of Dana was the third stabbing that the Residents’ Council and BHFA were told about this year.
One account we heard was a woman was hit by a staff member with a radio. The client was pregnant and miscarried as a result.
The Resident Council was formed out of our advocacy group to act as voice for shelter residents, to go to HRC/JHR staff and city officials with their concerns. The Resident Council will hold a meeting for all HRC aka Code Blue residents Friday, March 22 at 9 a.m. If you are a shelter resident you can come to the council or BHFA, which meets at 11:45 am every Tuesday at HCH, 421 Fallsway. We will assist you in filing any grievances with the HRC shelter especially for violence.
It doesn’t puzzle me that the former residents of Camp 83 choose to live in their safe encampment rather than go back to the shelter. I want to know how much the fence around it cost? Also, where did the money to build it come from? How many units of affordable housing could have been built instead of a fence?
Another thing that bewilders me to a point is this: When a large group of people witness and experience a tragedy such as a school shooting, normally grief counselors emerge on site to help them. Where are the grief counselors for the homeless residents? A member of the homeless community was slain before some of their eyes.
Homeless people are human beings and deserve to be treated so.
When you meet them, acknowledge them as people. Genuine kind words give go far. I try to give homeless people hope even when the road looks bleak. I’ve slept on a park bench. I stayed at the “Old Code Blue” which is now Baltimore’s men’s overflow shelter hidden away in a parking garage on Davis Street.
Some of us may be almost invisible, but we do not have to remain silent. I applaud the brave souls who have come forward to tell their real stories. I understand those who are afraid of retribution by the shelter staff. People care and they are uniting until everyone who deserves a home, goes home!