I had no idea where I was going. Following my GPS, I ended up in an area of town where I had not been and needless to say wouldn’t necessarily choose. I saw the backup going onto the Beltway so I went plan B.
I ended up going on an avenue that ran straight form one end of Baltimore to another. As I started there were rowhouses quaintly kept lining the road. I continued only to see the crumbling City before me. Lines of condemned houses lined one block. Some were boarded up, some closed with cinderblocks. A few were open, windows shattered, and front door torn off. I knew there were blocks such as these but when I continued to drive, I continued to see block after block with a majority or complete rows condemned and dilapidated. Not only were the houses lifeless, but also the only activity around them was people loitering on porches or hanging out of the houses. It was not a sight I would want to see everyday.
I thought of a few things.
In Baltimore the news stations had been focusing on homeless camps and how they were going to be shut down by the City. Everyone knew the camp would just be moved to another area, then another, then another. I am a dreamer, but wondered how much it would cost to rehab houses, by non-profits or big business. It could take on a habitat for humanity structure. It isn’t impossible. Homes would afford those who wanted it to have an address – needed for a job application, a place to sleep and cook meals. Set up like a boarding house, people could choose the level of interaction they would want with others. Those entitled to benefits could find the resources to direct them in how to access the system. I could go on about the possible outcomes, but the one, the foundation is shelter that will not be destroyed every few months.
I thought about the people who have to live in areas so depressed and rotting. Life around the houses themselves was minimal yet all around them the hustle and bustle of the day proceeded. How did the people living in the area stand to have the city rotting before them? A sense of apathy filled the air; it was kind of an area of pure survival, not growth. I didn’t stop to ask anyone, but did they expect more from the City? How can the despair of decaying houses, blocks of them not affect the neighborhood? I wanted to get out of my car and ask the people. Of course, I would not. Can lives fall apart piece after piece like the houses around them? Are the people forgotten like the environment where they lived? Has the apathy shown by the City in regards to the rotting buildings been seared into every part of their lives?
The sadness overwhelmed me. In minutes, I was glad to be home yet the specter of what I saw on my ride would haunt and would for quite a time.