Thanks to HBO’s The Wire, Baltimore’s drug problem is a part of the national conscience. Why it’s so bad there, though, is the subject of much debate and controversy. Whether it’s easy entry through the I-95 corridor, the busy Port of Baltimore, the proximity of Washington, Philadelphia, and other major East Coast cities, or some other reason . . . all may play a role.
Nor is the problem confined to low-income or minority neighborhoods, as many people wrongly assume. In truth, addiction does not know or care about a person’s race, culture, faith, neighborhood, education, vocation, or financial status – none of those protect against addiction.
Helping Up Mission (HUM) is a nonprofit organization that has been aiding the poor and underserved residents of Baltimore City and the surrounding counties since 1885. HUM currently provides food, shelter, addiction recovery, education, and other support programs to 500 men daily. HUM focuses on addressing the underlying causes of homelessness by working with residents to overcome addiction and progress out of poverty into stable housing by securing employment. Currently, there are an estimated 50,000 people in various stages of addiction throughout Baltimore, with intoxication-related deaths skyrocketing up to more than 60 percent in the last five years across Maryland.
Helping Up Mission’s House of Freedom, financed in part by CAHEC New Markets, is a new 131,000 sq. ft., 7-story facility for women and their children who are experiencing poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The new facility features 260 beds that are used for a one-year residential substance abuse recovery program. In addition, the project will also include an emergency shelter, commercial kitchen, dining hall, childcare area, classrooms, a primary care/wellness center, mental health service area, counseling offices, workforce development, education center, and recreation area. The House of Freedom is expected to be completed in October 2021 and will allow HUM to serve the women and children in the community who do not have access to similar services elsewhere.