Dating as far back as the early 1980s, Baltimore City has grappled with young people panhandling, but not just with a sign and a "please give" attitude. Instead, the city has dozens of youth who crowd at busy intersections, spray bottle and squeegee in hand, clustering around cars to clean windshields.
Typically dubbed "the squeegee boys," these groups of young people do provide a service, but are not normally providers of goodwill in the city. Often aggressive and sometimes violent, the squeegee boys are sometimes intimidating to motorists, and many disapprove of their pursuits.
In 2019, the mayor's office developed "a support model for disrupting environments that encourage squeegee activity, while providing wraparound supports to youth." (AAME Baltimore).
Mayor Brandon Scott has created a "90-Day Squeegee Action Plan" to put citizens' minds at ease when it comes to the squeegee boys. Under the plan, the city has identified nearly 200 disengaged youths who participate in cleaning windshields to earn money, and has re-engaged them in school, worked to secure social security cards and birth certificates for the young men, and connected them with temporary or permanent employment.
The 90-day plan is broken into three segments, with the first 30 days focusing on identifying youth and securing basic needs and beginning engagement, the second 30 days working on recruitment and outreach protocols including conversations with businesses and social opportunities, and the third 30 days providing daily work stipends for work completed in the city that is not connected to squeegee activity, along with connection to permanent employment long-term.
Ongoing long term items that are part of the overall plan include the creation of a youth advisory board made up of the young men themselves to gather ideas and input on how to better serve the constituents, an ongoing study of partners to evaluate and provide educational opportunities for the youth, and securing an academic partner to provide training for those affected in the the Boys and Young Men of Color Strategic Plan.