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Baltimore Will Use $90.4 Million In Long-Term Response To Homelessness, Scott Says

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore will use $90.4 million in federal funding to continue some of its COVID-19 measures as a long-term response to homelessness, including the purchase and renovation of two hotels to provide emergency housing, Mayor Brandon Scott said Tuesday.

The Mayor's Office of Recovery Programs will also provide rental assistance and case management services for people who were provided housing in hotels during the pandemic,  increase the number of supportive housing units,  partner with landlords to boost the stock of units and offer short-term rental assistance to prevent people from entering shelters.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the challenges our communities face and exacerbated housing loss," Scott said. "This investment is about looking at access to housing as a fundamental human right and connecting residents experiencing homelessness to the services and resources they need to get back on their feet."

Scott said the city will use $75 million from its $641 million American Rescue Plan Act funding, plus $15.4 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

"We developed our ARPA proposals through community engagement along with a strategic plan to ensure the sustainability of initiatives beyond this one-time investment," said said Irene Agustin, Director of Mayor's Office of Homeless Services. "Our neighbors facing a housing crisis, who have been among the most vulnerable during the pandemic, deserve quick resolution and an adequate supply of affordable housing."

Mark Council, lead organizer of the grassroots organization Housing Our Neighbors, said the proposals would help the homeless population get "back into civilization."

Council, who said he's been homeless and lived in vacant buildings, said congregate living made it hard to follow some pandemic-related health protocols, such as social distancing.

"We must save lives, and this is the day that we can do this," he said. "This is something that is really important to us all."


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