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'This didn’t have to happen.': Neighborhood calling for more city oversight on abandoned properties

Neighborhood calling for more city oversight on abandoned properties
Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 06:27:06-05

BALTIMORE — The Mount Clare neighborhood, much like the rest of Baltimore City, is dealing with vacant and abandoned homes. There is a total of 15,000 city wide.

RELATED: Tackling abandoned homes in Baltimore City

“They should be inspected quickly and if they find that they’re not inhabitable or can't quickly, they should tear them down,” said James Dunn.

Dunn lives across the street from the deadly fire that claimed the life of three firefighters Monday. Unfortunately, demolishing a home isn’t so simple, says city council member John Bullock.

“If the city owns a property, it’s easy to stabilize it, to demolish it, because the city has ownership of it,” said Bullock. “If it’s privately owned, that makes it more difficult for the city to get access to the property.”

That's the case with the property in question on South Stricker Street where three Baltimore City firefighters died after there was a partial collapse.

Records show at last inspection the home was boarded up. Still, there are questions how it went up in flames when there was no working electricity.

“They’re taking the boards off the houses,” said Celeste Ireland. “I’ve seen it. I’ve also been by houses that have been cemented and I think that’s the best option for these houses if you’re not going to do anything with them.”

While some homes are permanently secured with cinder blocks and cement, that’s not the usual practice.

Cinder blocks are an added expense, something the city doesn’t have the luxury of affording.

That’s why city officials are reminding residents if they see or hear something at a vacant property to call 311 and file a complaint.

“It can be productive to some degree,” said Bullock. “But it’s also being more proactive from housing and coding enforcement, especially when they have been prom properties you’ve had issues with before.”

“This didn’t have to happen to happen,” said Dunn. “I think that the city should hold property owners accountable.”