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‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity': City Council President Mosby initiates another hearing for Baltimore vacant home bills

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Posted at 9:49 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 07:49:06-04

BALTIMORE — Talks of home ownership at the cost of a dollar was back on the table during a hearing at City Hall Tuesday. 

At least 120 people showed up for to listen to city leaders discuss legislation surrounding Baltimore’s vacant homes.

Baltimoreans and prospective property owners flooded City Hall with dreams of home ownership.

“The people of Baltimore, we need help,” said Candice Christmas. “This program would be a huge help. There’s so much blight.” 

Christmas told WMAR-2 News if she were able to secure a vacant home under the current bills being proposed it would mean leaving something to pass down to her children. 

The single mom attended Tuesday’s hearing as City Council President Nick Mosby once again brought to the table House Baltimore legislation.  

Originally introduced back in November, Mosby said it is intended to fortify communities by investing in longtime residents and allowing them to buy a house they can afford, stay in that home and use the property to ultimately create generational wealth for their family. 

But the bills have never made it out of committee. 

“There was nothing new in tonight’s hearing,” said one city council member. “There were no amendments from what we saw last time.” 

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Doubling down on dollar homes in Baltimore

Many questioned why a hearing was even held. 

During the hearing, city leaders and agencies questioned everything from the proposed dollar sales to the proposed $50,000 repair grant to the proposed senior grant program. 

At one point a member of the Department of Housing and Community Development questioned the feasibility of the proposals. 

“it is unclear how this legislation will be funded,” said Stephanie Murdock. “Barring a funding source, DHCD does not presently have the financial capacity to implement the program.” 

Staffing was also a concern.

Councilman Zeke Cohen told WMAR 2 News he’s concerned rehab of a vacant home would Baltimoreans underwater — owing more money than their new home would be worth.

“In other words,” said Cohen, “most of the stock that would be eligible to be a dollar home would require mass renovations. These are primarily shells in there surrounded by other vacants. It would leave people upside down.”

In a statement to WMAR 2 News, the mayor’s office called Mosby’s bills “pie in the sky.”  

In a statement, the mayor’s office said: 

“Mayor Scott has proven his commitment to addressing vacant properties and creating opportunities for residents in traditionally underserved communities to become homeowners. He allocated $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help address this critical issue. Frankly, the Council President's legislation does not match the Mayor's vision for meaningful policy and programs designed to help our communities or even come close. This legislation appears more harmful than helpful."