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"We scream every night about crime. We created it. This is your outcome from Redlining...”

How redlining impacts Baltimore blight
vacant homes
Posted at 1:19 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 18:19:44-04

BALTIMORE — We've seen the headlines time and time again. Whether it’s the deaths that happen inside of them, the crime that surrounds them, or the blight they create in the city. Vacant homes sit as empty eye sores.

But, the question looms surrounding how Baltimore’s condition with vacant homes got the way it did.

"It's all over the city so its not just this spot. It's several spots,” Doris Minor Terrell passionately expressed.

As part of a Community Development Corporation her frustrations with vacancies in Baltimore unlocks passion she can't contain.

"We scream every night about crime. We created it. This is your outcome from Redlining,” said Terrell.

"Its redlining. They're redlining your car insurance. They're red lining your access to become home owners. They're redlining when you're a developer and you look like me and you’re black.”

‘Redline’ which District 12 Councilman Robert Stokes mentions is to refuse a loan or insurance to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk.

In the 1930's the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) gave grades from A to D for neighborhoods based on perceived mortgage risks.

Most black and brown communities received D's and were colored red, denying home owners their fair loans which as a result, negatively impacted investment in those areas.

The impact, nearly a century later, still evident in the form of vacant houses.

“The policies have to change in housing int his city. If we don't change the policy, this doesn't change and we change the policy by Broadway east having a CDC Midway has a CDC. I have 2 black females, community development corporations. give them access to city owned properties. We can bring in our own developers. We can bring in our own architect and we can do this ourselves but we don't always get that opportunity because the policies have not changed,” said Stokes.

Those like Terrell who want to rebuild their community say when they go to the bank for the money it takes to do it, they’re shut out.

“When you walk in the doors you don't have the performance they need so your bank balances aren't the same. We don't have the funding to say 'oh yes we can lift this off the ground. We can't, we need funding to lift that. We need that equal access to funding,” said Terrell.

Councilwoman Odette Ramos says though its an issue with an expensive price tag, it’s just as costly to leave it unaddressed noting the correlation between crime and areas saturated with vacant homes...

“We need more money directed to this problem because we need the subsidies to be able to make it work or houses like this are going to take so much money to rehab but may not get that market rate that we'll need to be able to recover those costs. Demolition costs money. Working with homeowners to acquire property is going to have some subsidies as well,” she explained.

“What is the city's plan to make this happen differently? the real plan to say we're going to open these doors, remove this plight, to make it possible for people to have homes that are safe and healthy to live in” Terrell questioned.

Mayor Brandon Scott announced in mid-march what he hopes will be an answer.

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

The plan focuses on 3 categories: $4 million allocated to resident protection and anti-displacement, nearly 40 million to blight elimination and prevention and more than $56 million to strategic capital investments.

While Terrell hopes some of those dollars will be able to fund her communitiy development initiatives.

“We're only asking that we get that same equal access to provide for our people a healthy neighborhood,” Terrell expressed.