In follow up to the Mount Vernon Quality of Life & Safety Meeting—held on October 24th by the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association (MVBA), the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy (MVPC), & the Midtown Community Benefits District (Midtown)—the below message is a recap of the highlights from the meeting.
The Mayor’s Office is looking to increase and improve homeless services, largely via private investment, as federal funding is increasingly unstable and local funding is scarce. How?
– Increase outreach professionals who build relationships with the homeless and in the community to offer and connect to services.
– Increase case managers to coordinate services for homeless individuals who agree to receive them.
– Increase housing, especially rapid re-housing, bridge housing and safe havens that come with wraparound services; spur private investment in long-term, permanent housing for homeless individuals.
Baltimore Police Department (BPD) is able to intervene ONLY when an individual calls 911. 911 is the best way to get a response.
– If BPD does not respond in a “reasonable” amount of time – based on your judgment, call 911 again and again until they respond. If necessary, lodge a complaint with the supervisor.
– There is no “acceptable” response time from BPD – it depends on call volume and officer availability.
BPD has put in place a number of programs to address issues with the homeless and are hoping to increase capacity to address issues with panhandling as officers graduate from the academy.
– Homeless outreach team: 1 sergeant + 1 officer to address specific homeless individuals, and investigate the root of their situation to connect those who are interested to resources and services.
– Critical incident team: 1 sergeant + 3 officers with a direct line to healthcare clinicians to address specific behavioral and mental health crises. This team performs on-site diagnoses and helps come up with solutions, such as changes to an individual’s medication regimen.
– Law Enforcement Assistance Diversion (LEAD): Diverts low-level narcotic offenses into services instead of arrests. Both arrest diversion and social referrals connect people to wraparound services under this program, including behavioral health, drug addiction services, getting IDs, job training, etc. This program employs 3 case managers and is privately funded.
– When responding to a call, BPD officers will NOT ask the immigration status of anyone involved. Similarly, they are required by law, when moving a homeless person to a shelter or services, to place the individual in a shelter according to the gender that they present.
– When incidents occur with the homeless population, BPD passes information on those individuals to the city’s Homeless Services (i.e. the Journey Home), and the two groups work closely to ensure the identified people receive the services they need.
– Councilman Costello is working to establish incentives for BPD officers to live in the City, thereby investing in the community.
– Councilman Stokes is working to provide legal representation to tenants with housing code violations, which often leads to eviction and homelessness.
– Private individuals can register their home surveillance cameras with BPD’s CityWatch to assist in arrests and police investigations.
– Additional information will be provided to the community, once made available.
Thank you to all who could attend the meeting as well as The Engineer’s Club for hosting the event.