Experts, Activists Discuss Housing Needs Still Unmet, 50 Years After MLK's Poor People's Campaign Demanded Government Action, March 5
February 23, 2018
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
The University of Baltimore's semester-long conversation about the history and impact of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign will continue on Monday, March 5, when a panel of experts and activists revisit the demand for decent, affordable housing articulated by the campaign—a demand which remains unmet today. A panel of experts will discuss the developments, policies, and laws that bear on the housing crisis, facilitated by Marc Steiner. The session will take place beginning at 5:30 p.m. in UB's Town Hall, located in the H. Mebane Turner Learning Commons, 1415 Maryland Ave. This event, as are all events in UB's extensive examination of King's legacy and its impact on social justice today, is free and open to the public.
About the panelists:
- Ciera Dunlap is the case manager at Youth Empowered Society, a drop-in day center for homeless youth, 18-24. She serves on the Journey Home Board—Baltimore's HUD required Continuum of Care for ending homelessness by focusing on permanent supportive housing. She has herself experienced homelessness.
- Sara Pratt practices law in the area of fair housing and civil rights, including cases involving segregation and civil rights violations, currently for the law firm of Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC in Washington, D.C. Previously, Pratt was deputy assistant secretary for Enforcement and Programs at HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and oversaw the agency's national enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws. She negotiated the settlement of a HUD complaint against Baltimore County and in 2015 settled a lending redlining case that was the largest such settlement in the history of the Fair Housing Act. In addition to government roles, Pratt staffed the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, co-chaired by former HUD Secretaries Jack Kemp and Henry Cisneros, and helped prepare a report issued in December 2009 on the future of fair housing. She assisted with the development of the report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, "Residential Segregation and Housing Discrimination in the United States," issued in January 2008. Her article, "Civil Rights Strategies to Increase Mobility," was recently published by the Yale Law Journal. She has worked as an advocate, attorney, trainer and fair housing and civil rights expert for more than 40 years.
- Tony Simmons is a staff member for Baltimore's Right to Housing Alliance. His interview on National Public Radio's Morning Edition focused national attention on the scourge of homelessness and the daily struggles of the homeless populations for the basic elements of survival. Like Dunlap and Williams, he has himself experienced homelessness.
- Jeff Singer organizes, does policy work, and undertakes outreach for CASH: City Advocates in Solidarity with the Homeless. For 15 years, he has worked for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, and for 25 years at Health Care for the Homeless in fields including child and adult protective services; mental health, addiction, HIV services; and nonprofit administration. Singer retired in 2011 after the agency's one millionth patient visit. During the 1990s, he directed the National Mobilization Project for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, seeking to create the right to housing and health care in the U.S. Singer helped organize the Baltimore Homeless Union, the People's Homesteading Group, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, Housing Our Neighbors, the People's Vacant Housing Survey, and the self-managed homeless shelter, Eutaw Center. He has published articles in street newspapers and academic journals, and authored books on health care, housing, poverty, addictions, homelessness, and justice. Singer is now an outreach worker and instructor in social policy and surrealism.
- Marc Steiner has been a fixture in Baltimore media and public affairs for 25 years, beginning with his radio show on WJHU, which continued on WYPR and WEAA. He has become one of the most recognized voices in Maryland and has gained national acclaim for his insightful style of interviewing. As president of the Center for Emerging Media, he won a Peabody Award, the most distinguished award in broadcast media, for the series "Just Words." Steiner participated in the Poor People's Campaign, spending five weeks during 1968 in "Resurrection City" on the National Mall.
- Anthony Williams serves as sexton at the First Unitarian Church. The play, The King of Howard Street, based on his journals of homelessness, was performed at the Annex Theater last year. Williams chairs the Journey Home Consumer Advisory Committee, which advises the Journey Home and the Mayor's Office of Human Services on the views of homeless individuals. Like Dunlap, Williams serves on the Journey Home Board and has himself experienced homelessness.
Learn more about UB's semester-long look at the Poor People's Campaign.