Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Unsanitary and dangerous. That’s how the city describes a homeless encampment under I-83 downtown. Residents now have until Friday to move out.
Monique Griego explains the fight is now at City Hall.
Residents say they don’t have anywhere else to go. Now they’re asking City Hall to delay the eviction for three months.
Tucked away under an I-83 on ramp in downtown Baltimore is an encampment around 20 transients, including Venus Wiles, call home.
“Most people wouldn’t think of it as home or a great place to live but for right now, it’s the only thing we got,” Wiles said.
But that may soon change. Last week, the city eviction notices went up. Residents have until Friday to move out.
“You’re going to have 17 more people out there, either downtown on the streets, sidewalks, sleeping wherever they can sleep,” Wiles said.
Camping in Baltimore City is illegal. Besides that, the city cites other health and safety problems, like open fires and rodent infestations.
“I understand there was some type of domestic violence situation over there, as well as drug use,” said Kate Briddell, Mayor’s Homeless Services.
The plan is to move the camp’s residents into emergency shelters until they can find something permanent.
“We’re hoping they’ll meet an outreach person who can help them navigate through our system and can find affordable housing for themselves,” Briddell said.
But homeless advocate Bonnie Lane says shelters have their own problems with violence and sexual assaults. She’s helping the group fight for an extension.
“They really don’t have any realistic alternatives, as far as housing,” Lane said.
Monday night, the City Council will discuss a resolution to postpone the eviction for three months. If it fails, Wiles doesn’t know where she’ll go.
“Everybody here is striving to get into housing and to get some type of normal life back, but right now this works better for us than the shelters,” Wiles said.
The resolution has been sent to the city housing committee for review. A decision should come Thursday, the day before the eviction.
The city has previously shut down other encampments. It’s part of the city’s 10-year plan to fight homelessness.