BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott joined officials Thursday afternoon from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to announce the city’s plan to address homelessness.
Baltimore has set a House America goal to rehouse at least 1,000 households experiencing homelessness and add at least 1,605 new units of affordable housing into the development pipeline this year.READ MORE: Fear And Frustration: 18 People Shot In Baltimore Last Weekend, Including Two Fells Point Shootings
The House America initiative is a partnership in which HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness work with local leaders to use American Rescue Plan funding to rehouse homeless people and stimulate the construction of new affordable housing.
The process to meet the city’s goal has already started. In February, Mayor Scott announced over $90 million in federal funding for the city’s long-term response to homelessness. Of that funding, $75 million was from the city’s $641 million American Rescue Plan Act funding and $15.4 million from the HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program.
HUD Senior Advisor for Housing and Services Richard Cho joined Scott and other city officials for the announcement, including Irene Agustin, the Director the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services and Alice Kennedy, Commissioner of the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development. Mayor Scott noted the importance of teamwork in solving homelessness.
“I’ve asked Commissioner Kennedy and our Director [Augustin] to lead the Leadership Committee on Homelessness and Housing, which will oversee the implementation of projects that bring us closer to accomplishing our goals,” Scott said. “This work really requires a unified front a will not work if we are being scattered.”
Last year Baltimore received a $3.1 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation from HUD for emergency housing vouchers to help homeless people and other vulnerable groups find and lease affordable places to live. Freddie Jackson, Jr, who was formerly homeless, is a housing voucher recipient who was able to move into an apartment last month.READ MORE: Maryland Gas Tax Set To Increase, Some Legislators Call For Another Tax Holiday
“I encouraged my friends who are still at the shelter to follow these steps and work with their case manager so they can have the same outcome that I have,” Jackson said. “The plans that the mayor is announcing here today is important because it will help people still find housing that really need it, because, to me, everyone deserves a safe place to call home.”
The city partners with people like Jackson who have lived experiences of homelessness through the Lived Experiences Advisory Committee to improve Baltimore’s homeless service system.
Senior Advisor Richard Cho said it is local work like Scott’s that makes federal initiatives like House America effective.
“It is leadership like what Mayor Scott is bringing to Baltimore that is really going to help us solve all of these challenges, particularly homelessness,” Cho said. “Secretary [Marcia] Fudge [of HUD] launched the House America Initiative recognizing that in addition to the historic resources we are providing through the American Rescue Plan to help communities, it is not just resources alone that will solve homelessness. It’s leadership by mayors.”
Baltimore is one of 93 communities across the country involved in House America. The communities represent more than 40% of the nation’s homeless population, Cho said.
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