As wages continue to lag behind inflation, housing cost steadily increase, and job opportunities veer from blue collar baby boomers towards educated millennials, many residents in Baltimore are left with little options for mere survival. Even further the ever widening societal disparities between poverty stricken families and young urban professionals (yuppie) have left neighborhoods in Baltimore either delightful or desolate.
There is a common unwritten expression in Baltimore that states “Walking a few of blocks from the most beautiful neighborhoods in Baltimore will only lead to some of the most forgotten ones”. This notion is extended to the incumbents that live in each neighborhood respectively.
Homelessness is a unfortunate chronic issue for most cities in America. In Baltimore alone a 2013 study conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Human Services-Homeless Services Program, (MOHS-HSP) revealed that nearly 3,000 people were homelessness during the night of January 27th. Their nocturnal snapshot is as follows:
- There were 2,638 homeless persons in Baltimore on the night of January 27, 2013.
- Over four of every 1,000 Baltimore City residents are homeless – more than three times the rate of homelessness in the State of Maryland as a whole.
- 51% of the homeless persons counted were between 41 and 60 years old.
- 20% of homeless persons counted were children and youth under 25.
- Two out of three homeless persons counted were male.
- 11% identified as veterans.
- 8% were determined to be chronically homeless.
- 22% of surveyed youth under 25 sell or have been asked to sell drugs.
- 56% of homeless persons surveyed have experienced substance abuse.
- 52% of homeless persons surveyed have experienced mental illness.
- 3% of homeless persons reported having HIV/AIDS.
- 9% of homeless persons were identified as domestic violence survivors.
- 25% of homeless persons surveyed reported having visited an Emergency Room more than three times in the last three months.
- One in three homeless persons surveyed reported having a mobility impairment.
- 58% of homeless persons surveyed reported having spent time in jail.
As such, homelessness has influenced numerous of political campaigns, school and residential developments, clergy initiatives, and profit/non-profit organizations alike. One major initiative, “The Baltimore Home for Good Campaign”, composed of 21 organizations including the Salvation Army, United Way of Central Maryland, St. Vincent de Paul, and Healthcare for the Homeless, has vowed to put all of their resources into ending homelessness.
Their strategy for the next 10 years is to end homelessness by ensuring that chronic and vulnerable homeless people are effectively identified and helped to attain and maintain permanent housing. To eradicate homelessness from the essence of Baltimore within the next 10 years is a lofty goal that is going to take a statewide collective effort. One man who looking to embrace that challenge is William Scipio.
William Scipio (also known as DeaconChef) is a social entrepreneur and the founder of DeaconChef, Inc. a non profit organization that provides services that aid homeless residents in Baltimore, Maryland. However, Mr. Scipio plans for this epidemic diverges from conventional thinking. His hopes are to provide services that will treat homeless people physically, uplift them spiritually and stabilize them emotionally.
He is currently in the process of organizing an annual event for homeless people that will be more like a festival and concert rather than a food drive. He is also looking to utilize his cooking and entrepreneurial skills to construct a 5 star restaurant that will focus on serving homeless people gourmet meals for free. Mr. Scipio is one of those individuals that sees the world through an abundance mentality and believes that every human being should be accounted for.
Recently, we were honored to volunteer with Mr. Scipio and the DeaconChef organization at an outreach event. The amount of compassion and love displayed throughout the event was surreal. To see a group of young zealous individuals build a better world around them was a pleasantry that no one should take lightly. Instead, we were left awestruck and inspired to do more for our fellow man. The future of Baltimore has just gotten a little brighter and we were fortunate enough to witness it’s spark. - Narrative By Carrington Dennis