Maryland U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen met with non-profit leaders from Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Wednesday morning to learn more about the communities’ challenges.
During a round-table they heard concerns about food security, housing stability and a need for youth assistance. The non-profits were not shy with their requests for federal funds — something the senators could not promise although Van Hollen, in particular, stressed the importance of applying for federal earmarks.
Mandy Memmel is the executive director and founder of The Well, a community non-profit that provides job training, wrap-around services and employment for vulnerable women. It sits in the heart of Curtis Bay. Memmel described a typical trip her clients take to get groceries.
“To get from the bus stop at The Well, to get up to top of Church Street [and Glen Ritchie Highway] just to be able to get groceries, intensive outpatient medical care, anything that’s needed, it took them an hour and 20 minutes to do what it takes a car five minutes to do,” said Memmel. Now that trip is getting even longer. The nearest full-service grocery store, Lidl, shuttered its doors in July.
Brooklyn and Curtis Bay sit in the furthest south corner of Baltimore, bordering Anne Arundel County. About 33 percent of families live below the federal poverty line, according to census data.
In Brooklyn, the community that suffered a mass shooting in July, Bill Humphreys provides food through his non-profit City of Refuge. But he says housing insecurity is also growing with row houses renting for up to $1400 a month.
“I don’t like it that I have to tell somebody that’s on a fixed income that their best solution is to move to rural Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania or Virginia. This is their neighborhood,” he told the senators. “This is their safety net, as unsafe as that safety net is.”