7/12/07 Rural Homelessness

In August 2006, the Department of Public Works of Elkton, Maryland went to the woods where some homeless people were living, pushed their belongings into a pile, and then carted it all off to a dump. The town also passed legislation this May that made illegal certain types of loitering. 

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is suing to protest the legislation and what took place in August 2006.

We invited the police, Mayor, and Commissioners of Elkton to come on.  No one took us up on our offer.

So we’ll talk this half hour about this court case, and the larger issue of rural homelesses in Maryland.  More than 38 thousand people are turned away from shelters each year in Maryland because there simply are not enough beds or enough money to help them.  The town of Elkton has a men’s shelter on Main Street had 18 beds total last summer.  48 men were on the waiting list to get in. 

So what are the resources or strategies that small municipalities can use to deal with the issue of rural  or small-town homelessness? How can we balance the concerns of business owners who say the homeless population causes problems for them with the needs of the homeless themselves? We’ll discuss that this half hour.

And please feel free to share with us your own experiences with homelessness or your encounters with the homeless, whether you live in a city or a small town.