Emergency Declarations News links and basic background can be found at the bottom of this blog.
Free Food Here is a link to a map of all locations in the city to get free food. Many sites are specifically for those under 18 years old. Hours vary by location, so check before you go. There are three locations within .5 miles of McCulloh Homes, Gilmor Homes and one near Poe Homes at the James McHenry Recreation Center.Older adults (over 60) who participate in Eating Together in Baltimore can still order meals through Maryland Access Point. Older adults who are not Eating Together participants can contact should call Maryland Access Point at 410-396-2273. The application for Eating Together is here but is NOT necessary at this time.
Free WiFi Xfinity is offering free internet access at hot spots all over the city for the next 60 days. To find the nearest hotspot, use this link and enter an address. There is also free internet access for those who qualify through the Baltimore City Public Schools website. Return here for details once we have them.
Also, City Schools have partnered with Comcast to bring the power of high speed internet service to students, families, and staff through the Internet Essentials program. Comcast is currently offering 2 months of free internet service to eligible Internet Essentials program participants. Any family with a child attending City Schools is eligible to apply to the Internet Essentials program through Comcast since the district provides free breakfast and lunch to all students. Staff may also apply for Internet Essentials if they are a parent of a City Schools student or fall within another qualifying group. Check here to see if you qualify!
Once enrolled in the program, participants can take advantage of special computer training and can even purchase a laptop or desktop computer at a super reduced rate while supplies last. To be eligible for the 2-month free promotion, you must apply by April 30, 2020. After the promotional period, the standard Internet Essentials rate of $9.95 + tax would apply. Program participants must opt out of the program to not be charged the fee after the promotional period ends. Apply today online (preferred) or by phone at 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376).
Transportation Buses and other public transportation are still running, but on revised schedules. The Maryland Transit Authority is asking for your help slowing the spread of COVID-19. Guidance: PLEASE USE TRANSIT FOR ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY. Essential travel means taking trips to work, hospitals, health care providers, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, food distribution centers, schools, to provide care for family members, and other similar destinations. For the most updated schedule changes for MTA services, use this link.
Clearinghouse Information Open Society Baltimore is keeping their resource page up to date. It includes links to: general information about COVID-19, local government resources, community-based resources (neighbors helping neighbors), educational resources, and arts resources.
You Cannot Be Evicted Right Now Baltimore Mayor Young put a stop to evictions halted schools are closed because of coronavirus. This means that the sheriff’s office will not evict people from their homes before schools resume. This may not prevent landlords from threatening you, or announcing rent increases.
Our Responses Our concern for the welfare of our communities has led Communities United to take the following steps: 1. All of our in-person events are canceled and offices are closed until further notice. Please stay up to date about when we are back live by following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or receive text messages, emails and calls from us by signing up here. 2. We are working remotely. This means we’re GOING to call, text and message you. Please let us know how you are doing. Thank you. 3. We are having meetings, and are planning events online. Please let us know when we call, text or message you what platforms you are on (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram...or another one, if you are on something else). 4. Please join our online events: Baltimore City Board of Estimates Taxpayer Night is April 7th at 6pm, Baltimore Budget-Freedom to Thrive Town Hall, April 21st at 6pm.
We love you. Please stay safe, and keep others safe by staying home or keeping your distance if you go out. Keep a regular schedule, as much as you can. Be kind to one another. We need all of you.
Background of Emergency Orders Maryland State of Emergency Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to declare a state of emergency due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 5 was ahead of the curve. He showed leadership when he directed the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Emergency Management Agency to "ramp up" coordination among state and local agencies and "fast-track" the state's response to the illness. The story is here. Hogan has since issued an executive order (effective 8pm, 3/30) stopping all non-essential travel and instituting a statewide stay-at-home order. Here is that order.Guidance: Stay at home unless necessary.
National State of Emergency President Donald Trump during a Friday, March 13 news conference declared a national emergency in response to the ongoing spread of the new coronavirus throughout the United States, which frees up to $50 billion in federal aid to states and municipalities. Here is the story.
Baltimore County State of Emergency On March 13th, County Executive Johnny Olszewski declared a state of emergency due to the virus. Here is the story.
Baltimore City State of Emergency On Wednesday, March 18th, Mayor Jack Young declared a 30-day state of emergency to expand the programs that provide free food shelter. There were 5 confirmed cases, and clear community transmission. Here is that story.
Fair Funding Coalition Calls on Legislature to Commit to Passage of Full Kirwan Commission PlanDecember 5th 2019
The Maryland Fair Funding Coalition, representing more than a dozen organizations around the state, issued the following statement about Governor Larry Hogan’s remarks today regarding the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations to strengthen public education. “Passing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is critical for Maryland students and our state’s future economic success. Rather than being a partner and a leader in advancing this ground- breaking legislation, the governor continues to make misleading statements while raising unlimited ‘dark’ money behind the scenes to fight these reforms. “Marylanders overwhelmingly support investments in public education and strongly back the key planks of the Blueprint. The Kirwan Commission plan already includes new accountability measures to ensure public resources are well spent. “We can afford to invest more in our schools if we take a few steps to clean up our ineffective tax code: eliminate ineffective tax breaks and close loopholes that benefit wealthy individuals and large corporations. “We urge legislators to act in the next General Assembly session to pass the Blueprint and identify a fair revenue package that ensures we can make this vision a reality. Our kids can’t wait another generation to receive the great education they deserve.”
The groups endorsing this call to action include: Baltimore Teachers Union, CASA, AFSCME MD, Communities United, Good Jobs First, Maryland Center on Economic Policy, Maryland Nonprofits, SEIU Local 500
On January 9th at 6pm, we are gathering at Douglas Memorial Community Church to discuss and take action on the Baltimore City Budget, as well as the one in the state of Maryland. Without work and some significant changes at BOTH levels, our schools will remain underfunded for the next ten years!
Public schools in Maryland and Baltimore City are grossly underfunded. It’s time for the Maryland General Assembly and Baltimore's Mayor and City Council prioritize a meaningful solution - one that addresses all aspects of the problem - so that every child and every neighborhood has a great public school.
We demand that our state legislators recognize:
Every child deserves the opportunity for a world-class education. The General Assembly must support a revenue package that fixes our upside-down tax code, which now asks the least of those most able to pay.
They must commit to the investments in the education system in Maryland. For the third year in a row, major reforms to Maryland’s education system will be on the agenda when the General Assembly convenes for its 2020 session we demand they put a stop to tax breaks to special interests that don’t help our economy.
The Kirwan Commission’s proposals can succeed only if policymakers back them with sufficient resources. The source for these investments is reform of Maryland’s tax code to make it effective and equitable.
The Fair Funding Coalition’s proposals are focused on 1) eliminating loopholes and tax breaks that benefit special interests, and 2) fixing our upside-down tax code, which allows the wealthiest individuals to pay the smallest share of their income in state and local taxes.
We need to fix our tax system to support significant new state investments in education and ensure that large corporations and wealthy individuals are paying their share for the public services we all rely on.
We demand that our Mayor and City Councilmembers:
Prioritize the educational, social and emotional welfare of every child in Baltimore.
The Mayor must write and the City Council approve a budget package that reverses the pattern of over-spending on ineffective police, criminalization and a "justice system" that is anything but just.
The Mayor and City Council must commit to investments in high quality public education and appropriate and equitable public services throughout Baltimore City.
Admit that the BPD has promised for years to cut waste and corruption within its ranks. We cannot tolerate anything less in the FY2020 budget. Their budget must be right-sized to reflect their actual capacity to improve conditions as evidenced by their past success - and failure
Stop providing property tax breaks, subsidies or financing in exchange for promises. These deals have historically lacked means to assess compliance or refund subsidies, and have resulted in theft from our economy or and our communities, who shoulder the bill for needed services (police, fire, etc). Be prepared to ask NPOs who have a PILOT Agreement to renegotiate and account for the benefits they offer Baltimore's citizens.
Recognize that the $330M additional dollars needed to fund the Kirwan Commission’s proposals can succeed only if LOCAL policymakers back them with sufficient resources. The source for these investments is revision of Baltimore's Budget to make it effective and equitable.
The Communities United’s proposals are focused on 1) permanent annual budgetary redistribution away from the BPD, and 2) investment in public health based solutions to the City's most pressing problems: opioid overdose and addiction, criminalization of poverty, and lack of educational resources and opportunities for Baltimore's families, children and youth.
Medicare for All, the only truly single-payer, universal health care system, guarantees that health care is a right and enables every person living in the United States to receive the health care they need to survive and thrive.
August 20, 2019
Dear Honorable Members of the United States Congress:
As organizations that represent people of color, we respectfully urge you to co-sponsor the “Medicare for All Act of 2019” (H.R. 1384/S. 1129). Medicare for All, the only truly single-payer, universal health care system, guarantees that health care is a right and enables every person living in the United States to receive the health care they need to survive and thrive.
Despite many gains, 30 million people in the United States lack health insurance, and tens of millions of households have health insurance but cannot afford to receive the medical care they need. One in five working-age Americans report having problems paying their medical bills despite having health insurance, driven by pocketbook-busting premiums, copays and deductibles.
Universal health care is also a racial justice necessity because communities of color, in particular, suffer from a lack of access to affordable health insurance.
People of color make up 42% of the nonelderly U.S. population, yet account for over half of the total nonelderly uninsured population. Latinx and Black people have significantly higher uninsured rates (19% and 11%, respectively) compared to white people.
Medical debt remains a glaring issue for Black Americans. Nearly one in three Black Americans aged 18 to 64 has past-due medical bills. Black uninsured populations face burdensome out- of-pocket medical expenses when seeking care, which often means they are forced to delay preventative care and get treated as a last resort – the most expensive form of treatment.
Latinx patients are the most uninsured population in the United States today. Latinx individuals already comprise much of the workforce that is unable to get health coverage through their job. Lawmakers have curtailed the Affordable Care Act’s health enrollment program, which has severely challenged the ability of outreach workers to reach Latinx patients for new coverage.
Undocumented Latinx patients suffer further as they are ineligible for government-funded insurance and subsidized private health plans. Despite the fact that undocumented adults pay taxes, they are ineligible to receive Medicaid health benefits and financial subsidies to buy health plans from the federal-state health insurance marketplaces.
Disturbingly, racial bias mars the entirety of American health care. In particular, Black maternal and prenatal health access remains in crisis levels. In the state of New York between 2013 and 2015, 54 Black women died for every 100,000 births -- nearly four times the rate of white women.
Indeed, half of maternal deaths in our country are preventable. While there are many reasons why Black mothers and mothers-to-be experience poor treatment and care, a lack of quality health access is a significant factor.
Medicaid – a lifeline for many people of color and low-income patients – is not accepted at many hospitals and doctors’ offices. Black and low-income women are more likely than others to be treated at under-resourced hospitals, increasing the chances they may experience complications during and after childbirth. Hospital quality can account for nearly 50%t of the racial disparity in maternal illness. With Medicare for All, there are no “out of network” provider limits. Patients can get the care they seek, when it is appropriate and convenient for them.
Communities of color need a health care system that rectifies these long-standing structural biases and challenges. Medicare for All is that system. Medicare for All universal health care would support the health and economic security of patients of color, including finally providing full health coverage for all reproductive health services, alongside controlling the costs of prescription drugs – both glaring affordability and access issues for low and moderate-income patients of color.
Some health plans sold on the federal and state health insurance marketplaces discriminate on the basis of drug affordability for certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. By categorizing medications for particular conditions in the highest co-payment "tier," these plans price out patients with those ailments. These additional co-payments can result in thousands of dollars a year in extra expenses, crushing millions of households of color as they seek the care they need to survive.
There is only one form of universal health care that covers everybody, without exception, and lowers overall health care expenditures. Just as the passage of Medicare over 50 years ago helped spur hospital integration and improved health access, it can today usher in true universal health care.
It is time for Medicare for All. We implore you to join the movement in support of this bill. Sincerely,
A. Philip Randolph Institute
Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) Black Women's Health Imperative
Center for Popular Democracy
Color of Change
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) NAACP
Congratulations on your new job as Mayor of Baltimore. You take office at a difficult time when our city needs bold leadership to restore public confidence that good government is possible.
We, the undersigned organizations in Baltimore, urge you to be that bold leader by making significant revisions to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that you inherited from the previous mayor.
The FY2020 budget currently proposed does not reflect the morals of our organizations or the needs of the people of Baltimore. For every general fund $1.00 spent on police, Pugh’s budget would spend 53 cents on schools, 15 cents on housing and community development, 13 cents on human services, just over a nickel on jobs ($.06) and only one penny on substance use disorder and mental health.
In fact, Baltimore spends much more per capita on police than similar cities -- at least 25% more. In 2017, Baltimore spent $772 per resident, while Detroit spent $450, New York $581; and Houston $383. And the rate in Baltimore increases to $817 per resident in proposed FY2020. Over the10 years, spending on the Police and Sheriff’s Departments has grown by 67%, from $317.2 million in FY2010 to $527.2 million in FY2020. It’s grown faster than the city’s overall General Fund, which increased by only 44% over the same time.
Meanwhile, twice as many people in Baltimore are dying of overdoses as murder. If ever increasing police spending worked, Baltimore would be one of our nation’s safest city. Instead, we have been deemed the most dangerous by both the FBI and USA Today.
We need very different budget priorities. We call on you to make a commitment to right-size Baltimore’s police budget by ultimately moving 25% from policing to investments that will actually build a safe and thriving city. Demonstrate this commitment now by moving 5% ($26 million) from the proposed FY2020 policing budget. The list of needed, alternative investments is long: fully fund our schools, flood the streets with overdose reversal kits, create good jobs, particularly for residents who are formerly incarcerated or facing other roadblocks to meaningful, sustaining work.
You have a unique opportunity to break from the past and set Baltimore on a different course, restoring hope with a new moral compass. We urge you to take it.
by Jennifer Flynn Walker Watch Ady Barkan testify to the House Rules Committee on Medicare for All-Watch the Livestream
Today, affiliates from New Georgia Project, SPACES, Rights and Democracy VT & NH, Maryland Communities United, Birddog Nation, and allies from Rise and Resist joined several hundred activists from National Nurses United, People's Action, Our Revolution and Democratic Socialists of America to stand in front of PhRMA to demand Medicare for All.
Bonnie Castillo, the President of NNU, kicked off the rally recanting how everyday the decisions of nurses and doctors are overruled by insurance executives putting the lives of their patients at risk.
Angelique Speight, a member of SPACES, was one of the most powerful speakers asking the crowd if they "loooovvveed their Health Insurance provider. If they lovvveed Aetna, or Cigna". It blew apart the most pervasive argument against Medicare for All. MSNBC has asked to have her on the air. Fingers crossed that it works out.
Speaker after speaker clearly made the policy case for Medicare for Alll. However, by far the most powerful moment happened when Ady Barkan's speech was read by Darius Gordon as a Mic Check. Ady led us through the words, "I HATE PHRMA! I HATE PHRMA! and then, "WE ARE GOING TO WHOOP YOUR BUTT!" After hearing about the 28 mother of two who died of cancer, spending her last year in fights with her insurance company and leaving her family in poverty, it felt so fucking good to say that.
The rally ended with hundreds of Go Fund Me's for healthcare stories band-aid taped to the walls of PhRMA's headquarters.
Here's the thing. I don't usually lose campaigns. And I don't intend to lose this one. We have a once in a generation opportunity to make healthcare a right in the US.
Wednesday, May 1, Ady Barkan, who traveled thousands of miles, at a great risk to his life, testified before the House Rules Committee. This is the first hearing on Medicare for All in 40 years.
Communities United is a proud partner of the Baltimore People's Climate Movement. We are a decentralized, leader-full group of organizations, activists, and residents working to build the New Energy & Economic Future by undoing environmental racism in Baltimore. Our table of partners meets regularly to support one another in our collective struggle by directing energies toward ongoing work.
Next week, our lead organizer Nabeehah Azeez will be on the panel for our New Energy & Economic Future Town Hall. Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior VP of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus, will open this town hall with a special video message. Then leaders from labor, climate, and local grassroots groups will dig into how we can build green industries in Maryland that protect our climate, provide clean, affordable power, and create family-sustaining jobs. Throughout the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in the conversation. The panel will be moderated by Marc Steiner (host of the Marc Steiner Show and founder of the Center for Emerging Media) and Khalilah M. Harris (host and executive producer at the Real News Network). Can you join us on August 28th at 231 Holliday Street at 5;30pm for this panel? RSVP here!
In March 2018, CU worked with renters advocates from across Baltimore City on sweeping reforms for rental housing. Landlords have from now until January 1 to inspect, repair, and license their 1-2 unit dwellings to rent them. For more information, visit rentersunitedmd.org or check out the press coverage from the action.