BALTIMORE — There’s a new sense of urgency to combat the housing crisis city and statewide.
On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released an action plan concerning the housing crisis, and right here in Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott said the funds from the American Rescue Plan Act are focusing on tackling this issue as well.
Mayor Scott said the pandemic has added to the housing issues in Baltimore, but city leaders are working diligently to combat this issue, and there’s a way people in the community can help as well.
“As the person who passed Baltimore's equity law, we're now going to be focusing in on the people in the neighborhoods that we left behind,” Scott said.
With more than 15,000 vacant homes, or eye sores throughout the city, around 13,000 of them are privately owned making it tough for the city leaders to deal with these issues.
“We have so far too many that are still in dilapidated state and attracts crime and all the negative things that we see,” Scott said.
Negative things like fires in vacant homes sometimes attached to occupied homes or fires ending in a death.
Mayor Scott said this is why of the $100 million investment from ARPA $39 million of those funds is going towards combating these issues.
“Dealing with vacant’s in an intense way, focusing in on neighborhoods that we know have a lot of vacants through our impact investment areas that are our traditionally redlining in ignored communities,” Scott said.
Like districts 9, 7, 12, and 13 with a combined total of almost 11,000 vacants in those districts.
“When you focus in on those areas intensely you’re able to eradicate vacant properties, able to support community work and work with our housing commission or housing departments to create sustainable new or even renovated affordable housing for folks. It's a way that we can tackle vacant’s in a much deeper way,” Scott said.
Wednesday Governor Hogan announced a statewide five-year consolidated plan on Revitalizing Communities, Expanding the Supply of Decent Affordable Housing, and Providing Homeownership Opportunities.
It’s something the city is working on daily.
It also aligns with Mayor Scott's orders directing all city agencies to conduct a 30-day review highlighting all existing operations procedures and processes centered around the issues of vacant homes.
“There are things that we can do short, medium, and long term. One of the things is helping us speed up those processes, going to work with our partners at the court level to have a separate docket for dealing with these vacant houses when they come through for receivership. Other things include making sure that we are taking all the legal action through code enforcement and law department. But it's really about a strengthening them and hastening the pace to be able to hold those folks accountable," Scott said. "I want folks that do their research, go to new website that talks about investing into Baltimore City. We have homeownership incentives for folks who are buying into neighborhoods in the city. That is the focus of what we're doing with investment here to buy back the block that will provide incentives for renters to be able to buy and live in their neighborhoods and be homeowners and actually save money. Because they’ll be paying $800 for mortgage and not $1,200 for rent. That’s the kind of investment that we’re making here and we just want folks to be part of that."