Pigtown’s Russell St. Homeless Shelter

A couple of months ago – before it occurred to us that we should have a website – one of us heard from a friend of his who knew somebody who lives in Baltimore in the neighborhood called “Pigtown” near the stadiums. We’ll call her “Mary,” because that’s actually her name.

Mary had heard about Local Initiatives and asked if we could do anything about the homeless people living under the Russell St. ramp.

Take a look at the Google Maps screenshot below. See Russell St.? There’s M&T Bank (Ravens) Stadium in the upper right corner. Note the Horseshoe Casino and its parking garage on the water. Closer to the stadium is BARCS, the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter on Stockholm St. that’s moving out to make room for a TopGolf driving range and bar. Because what great city doesn’t need a combination driving range and bar, on the water no less? The red marker is 1300 Russell St., the site of the new Hammerjacks. Ear plugs will be available in the lobby, free of charge to local residents.

Most importantly, the Russell St. ramp Mary was talking about is in the lower left quadrant. From the air, it looks fine, but we drove up there, a couple of times, to see for ourselves what she was talking about. To see the homeless people living there, protected from the sun by the exhaust stained concrete and steel above them.

It’s no secret that Baltimore has a homeless problem. Actually, that’s not the best way of putting it. For Baltimore, it’s unsightly for sure, but, for the people living under the Russell St. ramp and elsewhere without homes and little else that most of us take for granted, the problem is surviving day to day.

So Mary asked us what we could do about it, but we’ve decided to pass. Not that the problem isn’t real or important. It’s just that we have limited resources and have to pick and choose our initiatives in favor of those we have a reasonable chance of fixing. And homelessness in Baltimore isn’t one of them.

But then the story doesn’t end there. When researching the problem, we came across an interesting play. Note the two links below to articles published in March of this year.

According to these articles, the Horseshoe Casino is struggling. And so, in order to protect their investment, the owners of the casino have been investing millions to buy property nearby. The idea, as best we can tell, is to improve the ambiance and draw of the streets immediately adjacent to the casino, to create an entertainment center that will include the Hammerjacks and TopGolf from which the Horseshoe Casino will benefit.

We don’t live in Baltimore so maybe it’s none of our business, but it would seem that the last thing the city needs is more clubs when roughly two-thirds of the population is struggling financially. And that, thanks to Mary, leads us to ask the following question in this first of our website’s articles…

If the owners of the Horseshoe are so concerned about the ambiance of their location, that maybe its unsightly nature may be discouraging customers, instead of spending millions buying up property, do you think, just maybe, that it might occur to them to spend some of all that money helping, caring for, finding jobs and homes for the people living under the Russell St. ramps whose unfortunate accommodations may be be turning people off?

And what does it say about the heart and character of the owners of the Horseshoe Casino – and the City government and its Baltimore Development Corporation that is approving all this development – that it hasn’t occurred to them?

The Russell St. homeless come and go, depending upon the weather, other considerations and how frequently the casino and other local businesses call their contacts in city government to complain. Those calls may appear to solve the problem now and then, but it’s a superficial cure at best, not a real or long-term fix.

Anyone with pictures of the Russell St. homeless that we might publish, please send them to Info@LocalInitiatives.org. Thanks. Here now are the two articles we were talking about…

As revenue slides, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore buys up nearby land to secure its future”  Baltimore Sun, March 24, 2018

Horseshoe Baltimore Spending Millions of Dollars Buying Nearby Property” Casino.org, March 26, 2018

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