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Baltimore blight catching the eye of city and state leaders, but what now?

Over 15,000 vacant homes in Baltimore
Posted at 1:32 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 10:30:45-04

BALTIMORE — The tragic deaths of Paul Butrim, Kelsey Sadler, and Kenny Lacayo in a vacant rowhome fire sparked a wave of initiatives to address vacancies across Baltimore City...

We've looked at the impact vacancies have on families, the infrastructure that created the blocks of blight and the innovators working to remove them.

We've all heard the impact these hollow homes have had on families and their dreams surrounding home ownership...

In January, Mayor Scott called for a city-wide review of Baltimore's 15,000 vacant properties hoping to create ideas to address the issue dating back decades

"Some of the vacants that are standing today were standing 43 years ago. That is sinful and should never happen,” said U.S. Representative Kweisi Mfume at a news conference in March addressing the blight of Baltimore where Scott unveiled the city's plan to spend millions on the problem.

"Today I am announcing the allocation of 100 million dollars in Arpa funding to protect residents prevent blight,” Scott shared with the press.

$4 million dollars from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act were allocated to eviction avoidance, nearly $40 million to eliminate blight and more than $56 million to community development and affordable housing units

It’s an investment Alice Kennedy, head of Baltimore's Department of Housing called ‘crucial’ to their operations hopeful those dollars can make clearer paths to homeownership for first-time buyers.

"We want the process of obtaining and improving vacant city-owned property more inviting to those who want to take advantage of the opportunity to invest in Baltimore,” she shared.

For those who have purchased homes in the city without embracing the responsibility of homeownership, Councilwoman Odette Ramos introduced legislation to stiffen penalties for absentee owners which would begin with citations.

“The goal here is to get the attention of the owner and say hey its not just these little high grass and weeds citation. Its this big one. You’ve got to pay attention and if we don't you’ve got to keep citing them because my bill says everyday is a new violation,” Ramos shared with WMAR2 News.

Those citations could climb to $1,000 pre day as part of her proposed legislation

"The message that this sends to those who are just leaving the properties derelict is you cant do that anymore or we're going to fine you and fine you and fine you significantly and we're going to fine you substantially to deal with your homes and if you don't we will foreclose on them,” Ramos said.

She says her ideas are aimed at rebuilding neighborhoods once abandoned like Alice and Jean Stiths'

"Basically I'd like for them to fix them up and I'm like maybe it will make the neighborhood a little better,” Stith told WMAR-2 News.