Baltimore’s Squeegee Kids Helping To Feed Residents During Coronavirus Pandemic

As recently as January, Baltimore City Police reported that they were receiving about eight calls each day from residents complaining about squeegee kids.

Complaints ranged from menacing to fear of property damage and injuries that could result from aggressive attempts by the squeegee kids to wash motorists’ windshields to earn a buck.

Today, thanks to a program instituted through Mayor Jack Young’s Office of Children & Family Success, the squeegee kids are a welcome sight and distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many have been hired to give out meals to the needy, particularly families who depend on school lunches as all education facilities have shuttered indefinitely as the crisis rages on.

“The Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success leads emergency meal distribution for Baltimore’s youth and families during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Tisha Edwards, the office’s executive director.

The squeegee kids receive $50 each day— or $250 per week— for delivering the food, and based on a recent estimate, they’ve already handed out about 10,000 meals.

The Family League has spearheaded the lunch giveaways for families at eight Baltimore housing authority sites

“The kids [have done] an amazing job, and they were grateful to have a chance to help. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to look for ways for these young people to support our emergency response efforts,” Edwards said.

“We want them to get into something that’s very productive,” Mayor Young said. “We know they have entrepreneurial skills because of what they’re doing. But we want them to change that energy into something more productive.”

When they’re not delivering food, the workers trek door-to-door to let people know about where they can find meals. They are also reminding the public to wash their hands and practice social distancing.

Officials say that the change in attitudes toward the squeegee kids has been noticeable. One official told local television news reporters that they are “seeing a lot of people saying thank you.”

“A lot of the youth who squeegee are out on the corners because there is a financial need they’re trying to meet. So, we want to support them in meeting that financial need in a productive way,” Ed Hawkins, a program official, told the Baltimore CBS News affiliate.

“I want to see everybody live a long life,” said Tony Brown, a squeegee worker.

Squeegee Alternative Plan participants are enrolled in a one-year program in which they receive a mentor, job training, and an opportunity to earn an income.

“The city’s Squeegee Alternative Plan is where we work with youth who squeegee to develop social capital and access to safer, more sustainable ways of earning income,” Edwards said.

A vital element of the plan is pairing youth with opportunities to generate income while developing personal growth and job skills, Edwards noted.

“Providing meals to families at our public housing communities during this time of extraordinary need gave 13 youth both a modest stipend and an opportunity for meaningful engagement,” she said.

Governor Hogan Announces Bay Bridge Westbound Right Lane Reopened Today More Than A Year Ahead of Schedule

Governor Larry Hogan today announced the Bay Bridge westbound right lane deck rehabilitation is 100% complete and open to all motorists. The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) delivered on the governor’s directive to expedite the project—once slated to last up to two years—and reopen the right lane of the westbound Bay Bridge as soon as possible. All new concrete has been poured and cured, work zone barriers have been removed, restriping is finished, and the lane reopened to all traffic this morning.

The completion comes more than a full year ahead of schedule. It also has been accomplished amid the state’s response to COVID-19. During Maryland’s state of emergency, MDTA and its contractors have worked hard to deliver this critical project, leveraging the lower than normal traffic volumes while adhering to state and federal health and safety guidelines.

“Maryland is facing significant challenges these days, and of course our primary focus is on the health and safety of our citizens amid the ongoing COVID-19 threat,” said Governor Hogan. “But it’s important to celebrate the reopening of the westbound right lane of the Bay Bridge, because for me it represents the spirit, dedication and work ethic that will see our state through any crisis.”

“This project was envisioned as taking two construction seasons to complete. But our dedicated employees and contractors, working to serve their neighbors and all those who use this bridge, have completed it in just over seven months – record time by any measure,” Governor Hogan added. “The men and women who have accomplished this task inspire me, and will forever have my appreciation. They give all of us confidence that Maryland can and will emerge from any challenge faster and stronger than anyone can imagine.”

In September 2019, the westbound right lane of the Bay Bridge was closed. The bridge deck in this lane had reached the end of its service life and was severely deteriorated, presenting a safety risk. In one section, 75% of the lane was patched and deteriorated. Delaying this critical work would have resulted in a lengthier, costlier and more extensive project.

“We thank our motorists, communities and local and state elected officials for their support and cooperation throughout this project,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary and MDTA Chairman Gregory Slater. “I’d like to thank the men and women of MDOT and our contractors for rising to the challenge on a complex effort and in a challenging time. This will be one less thing for Marylanders to be concerned about as we rise out of our health crisis.”

Some Overnight/Off-Peak Work Remains; Minimal Traffic Impact

While the right lane is now reopened, some remaining work will occur on the westbound span center and left lanes during overnight/off-peak hours, including deck sealing, steel railing replacement and deck/joint repairs and replacements. Minimal traffic delays are expected. Motorists should expect some periods when steel plates will be placed in the center and left lanes.

Remaining work also includes replacing overhead signal gantries on the westbound span. Outages of individual signal gantries will be required during replacements. Drivers should continue to obey all signing and active signal gantries.

The MDTA also is leveraging the currently reduced traffic volumes to expedite installation of an automated gate system along westbound US 50 on the Eastern Shore that will allow maintenance crews to implement and discontinue two-way traffic operations at the bridge more safely and quickly. Drivers should expect single-lane closures on or approaching the Bay Bridge during daytime, off-peak hours as needed for this work, other ongoing projects, regular maintenance and facility inspections.

Bay Bridge All Electronic Tolling on Schedule

“In addition to answering Governor Hogan’s call to reopen the westbound right lane, the MDTA remains on schedule to begin all-electronic tolling at the Bay Bridge by summer 2020,” said MDTA Executive Director James F. Ports, Jr. “We are nearly 70% complete in reaching this goal.”

Crews have installed a new overhead tolling gantry across eastbound US 50 on the Eastern Shore between the bridge and MD 8. Work is underway to install and test the tolling system components.

Once all-electronic tolling is in place, cash will not be accepted as payment at the time of travel. Drivers won’t have to stop to pay tolls, as the overhead gantry will collect tolls electronically by E-ZPass® or Video Tolling.