Dating back to the 1980s, our city has grappled with a persistent challenge of youth/young adult panhandling – notably squeegee workers who dart across high-traffic intersections washing windshields to earn money. Some advocates support the activity as many squeegee workers spend hours on the corner to provide food, shelter, and basic human needs. Others cite the negative impacts of squeegeeing and its harm to the economy. And as you can imagine, there is a myriad of positions in between.
In July, Mayor Brandon Scott convened the Squeegee Collaborative – a cross-section of stakeholders (youth, business, community, and government). He charged us with developing a city-wide comprehensive solution to the challenges and opportunities squeegeeing presents to the City of Baltimore. More than 150 people engaged in a 4-month process to create a set of recommendations to eradicate squeegeeing. Downtown Partnership has been involved from the onset and can attest to the incredible partnerships created during this convening. The conversations haven’t always been easy, and the plan may not be perfect in everyone’s eyes. Still, we can assure our Downtown stakeholders that incredible efforts were made to learn from past successes and failures, explore resources and leadership impacts, and address legal concerns and enforcement options. As outlined in the plan, the Collaborative developed a series of key domains – support services, accountability, and governance and measurement so that the recommendations put forth create a viable path to eliminating squeegee in Baltimore City.
Downtown Baltimore is in a renaissance, and we will only reach our full potential as we move forward together.
This process is not final. We will continue to evolve the solution. Collaboration and innovation are the keys, and the Collective we – you, me, boys on the corner – hold those keys. Let’s move forward NOW, together.
Click the link to read the Squeegee Collaborative Working Action Plan. To stay up to date on the efforts of the Collaborative, visit aamebaltimore.com.