Baltimore City will begin enforcing a ban on squeegeeing in six highly-trafficked roadways in January, as part of a new plan that includes paid workforce trainings for youth who agree to stop squeegeeing.
The recommendations are two of several new policies included in a final report released Thursday by the Squeegee Collaborative, a group of about 150 young people, city officials and health care and business leaders whom Mayor Brandon Scott convened after a July fatal shooting in which a teenage squeegee worker is charged.
“The Baltimore I and so many of us envision is a Baltimore where no one has to stand at an intersection, asking for money,” the Democrat said.
The six areas, which Scott said were chosen based on traffic data, 311/911 calls, reported incidents and community feedback, include the intersection of Moravia Road and Sinclair Lane; the intersection of Northern Parkway and Wabash Avenue; President Street; the area around Mount Royal and North avenues near the I-83 ramp; an area near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and I-395; and an area near the I-395 offramp down Conway Street.
Squeegee workers, who are mostly Black boys and men, clean motorists’ car windows in hopes of cash tips.
Squeegee workers who operate in these areas, which will be labeled, will receive two warnings by Baltimore Police officers tasked with monitoring panhandling. After a third incident, workers will be issued citations. Motorists who engage with the workers may also receive citations.
Officials did not specify the financial penalty of the citation.
Scott said the city will roll out a public education campaign to inform both squeegee workers and motorists of the upcoming citations, akin to the awareness campaign for motorists when speed cameras were installed on I-83.
The debate around squeegeeing, a perennial issue in Baltimore, was reignited in July after the killing of Timothy Reynolds. The 48-year-old Hampden resident got out of his car near the intersection of Light and Conway streets and confronted a group of squeegee workers. During an altercation, he was shot. One of the workers, who was 14 at the time, has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder. His attorneys have said he was acting in self-defense.
Scott said the plan will enforce anti-panhandling ordinances without returning to the days of broken windows policing, where young Black men were locked up simply for standing outside.
Ivan Bates, who won the election for Baltimore City state’s attorney this week, said in a statement that he will do his part to enforce the plan.
“Since the beginning of my candidacy, I have advocated for the enforcement of laws that prohibit this type of behavior,” he said.
“What we are doing is taking an intentional first step for the first time in 40 years. We are doing real enforcement beyond criminal activity,” said Faith Leach, the deputy mayor of Equity, Health and Human Services.
She pointed to several of the new recommendations as examples of that, including a plan to hire and train service navigators and mentors to provide intense case management and guidance to squeegee workers obtaining both city and private provider services.
Another new program will link squeegee youth to paid workforce development training in exchange for their agreement to give up squeegeeing. Leach said she hopes to enroll up to 100 workers in the trainings, depending on funding. Minors will be encouraged to return to school.
Leach said the programs will cost roughly $5 million and that the city hopes to fund them through a combination of grants, support from private businesses and city dollars.
She recalled the moment when she informed about 25 squeegee youth of the plan.
“There was an audible gasp and some sitting back in the chair, like, ‘oh, man,’” she said. But she, the youth and other members of the collaborative worked through it, Leach said, by discussing the value proposition.
“These young people want more,” she said. “You can stay hustling on the corner, making a couple dollars here and there, squeegeeing for hours, or you can see a career pathway which is much more money in the long term.”
Victoria Thompson, 18, was part of the group that developed the plan. She grew up with a desire to stay on the straight and narrow path, she said. That’s what led her to squeegeeing: it was a way to earn money to pay for necessities as basic as food and clothing.
“We are not animals. We are human,” she said. “We want a better life.”