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Baltimore non-profit helps breathe new life into communities plagued by vacant homes

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Posted at 10:05 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 22:37:25-04

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore non-profit is restoring hope in communities plagued by vacant homes.

The Parks and People Foundation is eliminating blight in neighborhoods throughout the city and converting the empty lots into green spaces.

“It allows you to know that people do care about you and that people are willing to invest in the community,” said Frank Lance, who is the President and CEO of Parks and People Foundation.

The organization is currently working on a project in the Penn-North Community which is one of many neighborhoods in Baltimore plagued by abandoned properties.

”You have hopelessness. You have people who fail to dream because they don’t see any reason to dream,” said Lance, referring to how blight impacts neighborhoods in Baltimore.

It’s what Parks and People is trying to change in the Penn-North Community.

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The non-profit has torn down 40 vacant homes around Salem Street near Retreat Street and replaced them with what will become a community park.

“There will be a street mural. There will be trash cans and benches for people to come in rest. We believe in beatifying the community because we believe every community deserves to be beautiful,” Lance said.

Lance envisions the park as a gathering place for people in the community.

“It’s a place that allows the community to revive, to reinvent itself to dream once again and be true community,” he said.

Anthony Reese has lived in the area for two years. He said the project has helped breathe new life into the neighborhood

He said the vacant homes came with a lot of problems.

“A lot of rats. A lot of rats,” he said. “A lot of homeless people living in the vacant properties as well too.”

Reese said you can already tell the park is making a positive impact on the community.

“People are coming out to walk their dogs. Kids coming out to play. They have somewhere to play now which is a good thing.”

Lance said eliminating blight is one of the best ways to restore hope in neighborhoods.

For him, it’s also one of the best ways to creating a better Baltimore.

“And once you start seeing hope and believing in other people believe in you , then you can dream you can have a future,” Lance said.

The Parks and People Foundation will hold a ribbon cutting at the park, which will be called the Salem Street Community Park, on Tuesday.