Mayor Releases Squeegee Collaborative Working Action Plan
Thursday Nov 10th, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Supported by business and community leaders, the Collaborative has put forward a comprehensive plan to address a decades old concern
BALTIMORE, MD. (Thursday, November 10, 2022) - After more than three months of thoughtful discussions with a cross-section of business, community and government figures, as well as youth and young adults with lived experiences, the final working action plan developed by Mayor Brandon M. Scott's Squeegee Collaborative, was released this afternoon during a press conference held at Under Armour House at Fayette in Downtown Baltimore.
During the press conference, which was attended by many of the Collaborative members from the private and public sectors, Mayor Scott expressed his gratitude for the Collaborative and the innovative approach taken, and willingness to have difficult conversations, to address a matter that has been a source for both compassion and criticism for more than four decades.
"This issue has been challenging Baltimore for more than 40 years and I established the Squeegee Collaborative because it's time that we learn from our history and finally solve this matter," Mayor Scott said. "I've said all along that the Baltimore I envision is one where all of our children and families understand that we are committed to putting in the work to show them that their lives matter and that we want nothing but the best for them. This report clearly lays out how we plan to reinforce this message and provide opportunities for those who've viewed squeegee work as their only option."
The report includes 18 recommendations in three key areas - Support Services, Accountability, Governance, Data & Measurement. Including:
- The availability of caseworkers to serve as navigators for youth who squeegee, assisting with access to support services and programs
- Increased outreach to squeegee workers under 18 through a partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools
- The development of a pilot program creating disallowed areas zones for squeegee work
- Holding drivers accountable when they stop vehicles to engage with panhandlers
- The establishment of the Squeegee Collaborative as a formal subgroup within the governance of the Boys and Young Men of Color initiative
The recommendations were developed by the Collaborative following weeks of meetings where challenging conversations around race, equity and cultural biases were had to help strengthen understanding of the reasons why some people may choose to engage in squeegee work. Collaborative members also reviewed plans around squeegee work from prior mayoral administrations to learn about past successes and failures and even met with leaders from other cities such as Atlanta where similar panhandling efforts have been addressed.
"Resolving squeegeeing in a way that is humane and centers our values as a collaborative and as a city was a top priority," said Joe Jones, co-chair of the Squeegee Collaborative and president & CEO of the Center for Urban Families. "This is the first time that such a broad coalition formed to tackle this issue, and while the conversations were difficult at times, our common purpose and thoughtful approach guided us to the sustainable solutions outlined in our working action plan. Many of these measures and bold ideas have never been tried before or in such a coordinated way, and we are confident that they will enable us to achieve our goal of eliminating the need for squeegeeing to take place."
"We are excited about the path forward and know that the phased approach to implementation means our work is not done," said John Brothers, co-chair of the Squeegee Collaborative and president of the T. Rowe Price Foundation. "Achieving success over time will only happen with the continued shared commitment of the entire community. We encourage those interested to stay engaged, follow our progress, and support our efforts as we work to address the challenges and positively impact the lives of all segments of our community, most importantly our youth and young adults."
"The Squeegee Collaborative's recommendations are a crucial next step toward changing the trajectory for squeegee workers in our city," said Kevin Plank, Founder, Executive Chair and Brand Chief, Under Armour. "Their success is our success. I am encouraged by so many leaders from our community who have come together to provide intentional support and resources to help them ultimately reach their full potential. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with everyone who shares a commitment to creating a positive impact and driving change in the city we all love."
The collaborative, which was first assembled in July 2022, has been led by Deputy Mayor of Equity, Health and Human Services Faith Leach, T. Rowe Price Foundation President John Brothers and Center for Urban Families President and CEO Joseph Jones. While made up of over 150 adults from various sectors, the collaborative also included young adults who've had experience as squeegee workers, including Davion Hodges.
"It was important for me to be a part of this so that I could help connect with youth who feel like they have to be out there squeegeeing," said the 22-year-old Hodges, who stopped squeegee work to return to school and get his high school diploma. He is now working on getting his welding license and planning a better future for himself.
"I really do believe this plan will work because it gives help to those who are out there rather than them trying to figure it out on their own," Hodges said. "And having people like me play a part in this will leave a better impression on youth and help them see there's a way out."
The full report can be found at https://aamebaltimore.com/squeegee-collaborative/.