Baltimore community members and grassroots organizers gathered in front of City Hall Thursday afternoon to demand that the city and state do more to protect tenants and those experiencing homelessness.
Speakers included residents who spoke of their experiences living in local homeless shelters amid the coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic). They also read original poems and presented artwork.
Mayor Jack Young launched a $13 million pandemic rental assistance program on Wednesday, and Gov. Larry Hogan announced a $30 million fund to prevent evictions last Friday. But advocates say that this is not enough.
Adriana Foster is part of the Fair Development Roundtable, a coalition of tenants, homeowners, policy makers and people experiencing homelessness. She declared that they were putting Baltimore’s housing system “on trial.”
“Our current system denies us the right to life, the right to dignity, the right to housing and security,” Foster said. “We will envision a new system and talk about the steps that need to be taken immediately to set us on that path.”
She and other advocates are demanding that Hogan extend his moratorium on evictions, which will expire later this month. They also want the state to use $175 million of its $1.3 billion coronavirus relief fund for rent relief.
Foster said Black and Brown communities are disproportionately affected by evictions and homelessness and that it is important to hold governments responsible for what she identified as “patterns of violence” against Black and Brown people.
This is an important moment where people are rising up, demanding transformative change like defunding the police...and demonstrating important shows of resistance in the movement for black lives,” she said.