Men and Families Center Fights Shutdown
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CAMERON GRANADINO, JOURNALIST AND PRODUCER: On March 9, members of the Men and Families Center in East Baltimore organized a press conference in response to a decision to shut down the center due to fire code violations.
Leon Purnell, the director of the Men and Family Center, spoke out at the conference.
LEON PURNELL, DIRECTOR, MEN AND FAMILY CENTER: It’s not a good thing that we have to come here today. It’s kind of sad. On 27 February, we were presented by a fire marshal here, and he came in and he said he’d received a call about code violations. We knew we had code violations, because we need renovations desperately.
GRANADINO: The Real News Network to did a walk-through with Purnell to look at the fire code violations, such as light fixing, overcrowded furniture, uncovered stoves, and visible power cords.
PURNELL: And he also told us we need strike bars on the doors. I told him, I said, what good would that do? Our doors open in. So why would we put a strike bar on if we can’t open the door?
GRANADINO: The Real News contacted the Fire Department Office of Public Information and reached Captain Roman Clark. Clark stated, if there are life-safety issues in an establishment, it can cause an inspector to shut the place down for the protection of those individuals in the establishment.
Residents said losing the Center would be a huge loss to the community it had served for the past two decades, providing vital social services and employment assistance.
MR. CASSELL, MEN AND FAMILY CENTER: All I’m saying is this community, this center, I’ve been here since it’s opened, in the thick and thin, from the bad to the worst. Our kids in the neighborhood come here. If we don’t help them, who else will help them?
PAMELA HARVEY, NEIGHBORHOOD NAVIGATOR, MEN AND FAMILIES CENTER: Since I’ve been on this job for the community, I think I’ve helped a lot of people in this community as far as housing or health insurance, photo IDs, birth certificates.
LETTA GRANT, HEALTH CARE WORKER, JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL: It is definitely one of the few places you can go to get help in this city, especially this kind of help. Like, it’s not a lot of places you can go to get help getting a birth certificate.
NEIGHBORHOOD NAVIGATOR, MEN AND FAMILIES CENTER, BALTIMORE: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m one of the neighborhood navigators. And I’ve brought quite a few people, over 100 people, in this center. Some of the people, they have problems in their homes. And then I signed them up, they came to the center, and they got help.
We can’t let them stop what we’re doing. We are out here for a cause. I know I’m walking with a cane, but I’m still doing my work.
GRANADINO: There will be a public hearing Tuesday, April 7, in City Hall that will determine whether Purnell will be able to continue to use the premises as a community center.
For more on this, tune in to The Real News Network.
From Baltimore, this is Cameron Granadino.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.