Photo: Three white men converse, possibly on where the best dope is, in the heart of the black community. The irony is that while they are likely homeless, they are standing outside of the “Tent City” homeless shelter. Going inside for help, however, is the least of their concerns.
White, Homeless, Addicted in Many Cases, Living in Vacants and Panhandling … with an Attitude!
(BALTIMORE – June 3, 2018) – It’s as if someone posted a sign online somewhere telling all of the white addicts on the East Coast to haul their hind-parts to the African American communities surrounding Historic Pennsylvania Avenue, … like Sandtown: Move into a vacant and go shoot dope!
So, this is how the gentrification of the black community begins? Send in the white prostitutes and addicts with developers to follow? Never in the history of blackness have I ever seen anything like this before. In my nearly 53 years of living, … this is a first!
About three years ago, I had the opportunity to speak before the National Newspaper Publishers Association at their annual conference. This time, it was held in Portland, Oregon. I was grateful for the assignment because it meant that in addition to meeting some of my colleagues from around the country, like Richard Muhammad of The Final Call Newspaper, I’d get a chance to see my former college roommate. He had gone missing after years of addiction, but found a new life in Portland. He was clean and sober. It’s been 12 years now and he even runs his own business. He gives all praises to this incredible recovery program named Central City Concern (CCC).
For the uninitiated, Portland is a liberal town and understands what homeless addicts need. They have built a powerful safety net for anyone looking to get their life back together. This includes wrap-around services like treatment-on-demand and housing.
Portland has an enormous population of homeless people in a 90% white town. As my former roommate explained to me, many of the white addicts – marked by backpacks and tents – often have this sense of entitlement. He said that some even come from well-to-do families, but they have elected to be defiant in their quest for drugs.
There is nothing one can do for an addict unless, of course, the addict wants help. Further, addiction has no regard for race, education, or status. It is an insidiously cunning disease that will make a millionaire a beggar without apology. Jokingly, my former roommate has often noted that these addicts sometimes have dogs with them and how Portland even makes allotments for their pets.
The bottom-line is that Portland is inundated with homeless people everywhere and that many addicts from around the country find themselves in this West Coast city.
Portland is a part of what he calls “The Tramp Triangle” – a series of cities out West where addicts go from town to town, depending on the season. In Portland for example, a big draw is working in the marijuana fields on the outskirts.
The Tramp Triangle includes Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, Utah. The addicts, in short, have a network that is well-organized – if that’s what one wants to call it.
Fast forward to Sandtown, a 72-square block community in Historic West Baltimore that used to be 98% black. Long story short, Sandtown isn’t black anymore. As a matter of fact, at the rate things are going – blacks leaving, white homeless addicts flocking in groves – it is just a matter of time before white people – regardless of their drug status – may soon be the majority.
Now, that’s some gentrification for your ass!
On any given day, I (I live in Sandtown and have so since 1992) count no less than 200 white addicts bumbling through the streets – and alleys – in search of drugs.
I have caught white addicts in my alley – just strolling – strolling in places that a lot of black people would not go. Three weeks ago, I found a white woman walking in the alley behind my house at approximately 11 pm.
What’s odd is that up until a year ago, white addicts have historically paid a “runner” to go and get the drugs and bring them back. Sometimes the runner returned, and sometimes not. The point is, white addicts had no intention on going “up in the hole” for fear of life.
Not today! White addicts now traverse the rough streets of Sandtown with no fear – traveling two and three deep.
I have spoken with many of them in hopes of finding out from whence they come. I’ve found that they come from all over Baltimore, so they say. My trained ear and eye, tho, say something different. I’m guessing some come from as far away as New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Sandtown is known to addicts worldwide because of Historic Pennsylvania Avenue’s propensity for high-grade heroin. I’ve been told that addicts Google “who has the best heroin.”
Nonetheless, these addicts are here and for someone who has spent any length of time in this community, it is mind-blowing to say the least.
While there was a time not long ago that any white person walking – or driving, for that matter – in this part of the world would immediately get pulled-up or pulled-over by a cop, those days are long gone. Between the “Consent Decree” resulting from the Freddie Gray Unrest to the heroin cut with Fentanyl that has caused countless overdoses, white addicts un-forgivingly roam the streets of West Baltimore. Some even come with an attitude like it is okay to further destroy an already battered community. Mind you, the only thing new in Sandtown since Martin O’Malley came on the scene in 1999 is our former Sandtown Community Center was turned into a homeless shelter.
Since the Freddie Gray Unrest, the only difference in Sandtown in that Western District Police Station received a facelift, thanks to War Horse. War Horse is a non-profit that has renovated about three police stations in Baltimore. It is related to Kevin Plank.
Also, despite the community speaking-up at a hearing at the city’s Department of Housing, the former William Pinderhughes Elementary at 1200 N. Fremont, is also a homeless shelter. Hundreds of homeless come to this shelter by van every week for just about a year – even though it was only supposed to be for the short-term.
Initially, Mayor Catherine Pugh moved the homeless who had pitched about 20 tents in front of City Hall to this shelter, as if Sandtown needs additional challenges.
So, we have – in addition to the usual set of issues facing the impoverished – hundreds of white addicts to add to the mix. They live in vacant houses, they often wear backpacks, they feel entitled, and they say they live here – when asked.
The thing that gets me tho is that many white people voted for Donald Trump out of ignorance, and now many of these same white people – or their relatives – are coming to Sandtown, living like bums in the poorest black community in Maryland, and to top it off, they are begging from people who are already strapped for cash because these sick, addicted minds feel – in some strange way – entitled to do so.
In contrast, if I go and do this shit 8 blocks from here in Bolton Hill, the kind white people over there would have my black ass locked up faster than a Baltimore speed camera. You know, I think It is the irony of it all that I’m having the most trouble digesting this new age of gentrification.
It’s just a matter of time before white boys will be on the corner of Pennsylvania and Laurens selling dope. Welcome to Sandtown! Welcome to Upton! While a white addict would get “got” a hot minute ago just for stepping foot into West Baltimore, young black drug dealers are so focused on making money that they don’t see what is happening before their very eyes: The beginning of the end. An entire African American legacy once rich with tradition and history is being sold down the river … like slaves. Meanwhile, I think it is time for members of the Baltimore City Council to visit Portland to see how they’ve dealt with their opioid pandemic.
Homeless people being shipped to the former William Pinderhughes Elementary School everyday. About a year ago, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh shifted “Tent City” from in front of City Hall to Sandtown. Sandtown now has two shelters for homeless people. While this was only supposed to be temporary and even though the community went to a hearing on this property 2 years ago at the City’s Department of Housing to express its rejection of such a thing, a year later brings buses of homeless to an already impoverished area that is supersaturated with drugs.
This property is opposite the “Tent City” homeless shelter at 1200 N. Fremont. Addicts have been known to go inside and shoot dope. To the right is where Mr. Henry lives. He plans on moving soon as this block is 95% condemned. On the other side is a house where a fire broke out and Mr. Henry nearly died of smoke inhalation. There have been a multiplicity of fires in this immediate area over the past 5 weeks. Further, at least three dead bodies have been found. The community suspects either murder or overdose is the cause, or both. Keeping vacant properties boarded up to keep addicts and other homeless people out is a constant challenge. Maybe the City should be bricking them all up. It would certainly save the taxpayer money.
Uncapped needles is now a ubiquitous sight. Children have to be constantly warned to stay vigilant and to watch out for these tools of death. Children should not have to worry about getting stuck with a needle. This is absolutely horrible.