BALTIMORE, Md. — The city brought in heavy machinery to level the 500 block of Baker Street, wiping the slate clean on a block which more resembled an intermittent crime scene over the past year.
"There's been about seven killings around here,” said Lisa Johnson, who lives a block away, “They've been finding dead bodies in those homes they're tearing down now."
Manning the controls of the big rig for the first swipe, Mayor Catherine Pugh, who emerged energized to clear a path for a re-birth in West Baltimore, which has taken decades to come, as the mayor targets blight all over the city.
"What will happen today will allow us to get under that 15,000 boarded up houses in this city,” said Pugh, “This will be the first time in 15 years that we've been able to achieve this goal."
The city and the state have spent a $100 million to date ridding the city of its most dilapidated buildings.
"At this point, we've demolished or stabilized about 2,300 units through the Maryland Stadium Authority,” said Maryland Housing Secretary Kenneth Holt, “We will demolish or stabilize 4,000 units by the end of this fiscal year."
While tearing homes down has its benefits, in the Druid Heights community, the real payoff is already evident where it is building others back up.
Anthony Pressley is the executive director of the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation.
"It's because of what you're doing that we were able to receive $1.1 million to build 14 new homes for first-time home buyers right here in the space we’re standing in and around the corner,” said Pressley, “so thanks to that, 'Yay! Yay! Yay!'"