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Advocates Celebrate Relocating I-83 Homeless Encampment Residents

Christina Flowers speaking at the former encampment site on Monday
Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR
Christina Flowers speaking at the former encampment site on Monday

A homeless encampment under the I-83 bridge has been cleared.

Up until last week, people slept in rows of tents at the encampment at Guilford Avenue and Centre Street. Now they’re temporarily housed.

Advocates celebrated their work this morning with a press conference at the former encampment site.

Christina Flowers, founder of the Real Care Providers Network (RCP), said they’ve housed close to 55 people with wraparound services, after months of rallying with local organizations.

Speaking over the roar of vehicles overhead, Flowers thanked city officials, but said they need to do more.

“We have to recognize that they can do much more if they use the resources in this city to help those in need,” she said.

Flowers said the work of RCP and partner organizations is far from over, and that they cannot lose momentum.

Residents who lived in the site during the pandemic felt it was a safer alternative to living in crowded congregate shelters. Last November, amid a winter surge, former Mayor Jack Young tried to raze the I-83 encampment on short notice, without releasing a clear plan for where the encampment’s residents would be relocated.

After backlash from homeless advocates Young backed down, saying he was hoping the city could move them to hotels.

Zulieka Baysmore is an agent from Kemper Life, one of RCP’s partners. Baysmore said what advocates like Flowers have done sets an example for the rest of the country.

“Baltimore, you get to be the pilot of something great. Something greater than ourselves,” she said.

Baysmore and other speakers at Monday’s conference also paid tribute to lives lost. Last December, amid freezing temperatures, 55-year old Lisa Holmes and 68-year old Sherry Woods passed away under the bridge.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.