BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young met with business leaders Monday to try to find a way to get squeegee kids off the streets and into jobs.
As the city works to find a fix, some of the squeegee kids said they don’t have a choice, and without the income from squeegeeing, they can’t afford to eat.
“My father had died. I had watched him die in front of me. He had gotten very sick and he just passed away on the floor and then after that, my mother had left, she just got up and left, so I had to find something to do for me and my sister,” a 17-year-old squeegee kid told WJZ Monday.
- McDonald’s To Add 700 New Jobs Across Baltimore, Offer Up To $3K A Year In College Financial Aid
- Police Patrols Try To Deter Baltimore’s ‘Squeegee Kids’ From Working At City Intersections
- Mayor Jack Young Has A Plan To Get Squeegee Kids Off Baltimore Intersections, But It Costs $1.19M
- Squeegee Alternative Plan Aims To Get Kids Back In School, Find A Job
“I ain’t got a job right now, so got to get my money somehow,” another squeegee kid, age 19, said. “I ain’t trying to end up in jail over some drugs.”
This is the type of problem Young said he wants to fix, while also addressing the issue of violence. Some squeegee kids have been accused of attacking drivers.
Young said his goal is to work with all stakeholders, including business owners who have expressed concerns about the issue, to help the young people get the services they need.
“The main thing that I wanted to focus on was that I don’t like to have our kids out in traffic because it’s dangerous out there,” Young said. “We talked about the systemic reason why they are out there and everyone understood that and everyone pledged to do their part to work toward a solution.”
The Downtown Partnership also announced daily jobs in landscaping or maintenance that could turn into full-time positions.
Until a job offer comes, some of the squeegee kids said they’ll stay in the medians washing windows.
“I ain’t doing nothing illegal. I ain’t out here selling drugs or robbing somebody. Just come squeegeeing. You just have to be respectful though, just respect people’s property and you’ll be good,” the 17-year-old said.
Earlier this month, Young announced a nearly $1.2 million plan to help with services like getting kids back into school or connecting them with jobs. He hopes business leaders will also contribute financially.