May 10, 2017 Neighborhoods ·

Low-income renters in Baltimore become migrants in their own city

Originally published by Baltimore Sun →

The Baltimore Sun | When the furnace in their West Baltimore rowhouse broke last winter, Denise and Marvin Jones did what they could to keep their family warm — and together.

They filed a complaint against their landlord. They boiled pots of water and ran space heaters. They sent their four children to bed bundled in coats, hats and gloves.

“I didn’t want to separate them,” Denise said, crying. But “it was so cold.”

The family split up in January, fanning out to the heated homes of different relatives across the city even as they continued to pay the $950 monthly rent at their own cold home. They sometimes checked in to motels just to spend a few nights together.

But as temperatures rose with the coming of spring, so did their spirits. After five months, their complaint was advancing in Baltimore District Court. And Marvin had located a new home.

And then, just days before their court date last May, the landlord changed the locks and tossed most of their belongings in an alley. Scavengers made off with their clothes, furniture and an irreplaceable family heirloom: The American flag that had draped the casket of Denise’s grandfather, a World War II veteran.

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