Baltimore’s Clean Up Movement Under Fire

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In an effort to help Baltimore’s homeless population, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a cleanup movement. However, it was not welcomed by everyone.

Tracey Leong explains why.

The city is hoping to make the homeless encampment under the JFX a cleaner and safer environment, but people living there were startled and not too happy when the cleanup crews arrived.

For people living under the JFX in Baltimore, south of Eager Street, they have no other place to call home.

“City came down and we don’t like it,” said Thomas Burke, who lives in the encampment.

Residents weren’t prepared for the Department of Public Works to come in; they thought they were being kicked out.

“We been here six months and nobody ever said nothing—nothing ever. Squatters right, that’s what I said, and they should have given us longer than 10 days,” sad Ashley Escobar, who lives in the encampment.

However, the city’s focus was only to clean up any hazardous materials, including trash and human waste.

“This is a routine process to make it livable if they are choosing to be,” said Caron Brace, the mayor’s press secretary.

Easing the nerves of people in the camp who were initially confused.

“I was a little relieved. Yeah, it’s cool. I appreciate it and feel a lot better,” said Darrell Jones, who lives in the encampment.

Another goal for Monday was to provide permanent housing options.

“We can continue to make connections with these individuals and let them know what options they have and what resources can be afforded to them,” said Brace.

Jones has been living under I-83 for the past six months. He’s looking forward to getting help from the city.

“Better than being out here, of course,” he said.

The cleanup movement is also part of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s vision for the city.

“She is committed to making homelessness rare and brief, if not non-existent,” Brace said.

The city did post signs notifying people at the homeless encampment of the cleanup efforts more than a week ago. These are scheduled for every Monday and Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Since the summer, nine people who lived there have agreed to services helping them find housing.

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