Baltimore Housing: 17,000 vacant properties

Posted at 11:45 PM, Apr 05, 2016

In the past week and a half eight homes in West Baltimore have collapsed, with one of them landing on an elderly man's car, killing him.

And there are thousands more vacant homes out there -- some of them dangerously close to being next.
The City's Department of Housing and Community Development, or Baltimore Housing, estimates that there are 17,000 vacant properties in the city.  More than 3800 of them have been condemned, and of those, 531 are considered "Type 1" -- so dangerous that they are inspected every 10 days to make sure they won't collapse.

“Look at this neighborhood! There isn't enough residents really in here to justify it still standing. All of these houses should be condemned,” said Perry Hopkins, of the group Maryland Communities United.

He says after decades of neglect, nothing short of a massive public outcry will lead to large-scale changes.

“One of the things in Baltimore that is so pathetic, just like with the Freddie Gray thing, there's things going on that have just been so wrong for so long that it's just accepted as commonplace,” Hopkins said.

Last week a home in on North Payson Street collapsed onto Thomas Lemmon's Cadillac, killing him.

Then over the weekend seven more homes in West Baltimore came down in high winds.

RELATED: West Baltimore residents call emergency meeting to address unstable vacant buildings

Marvin 'Doc' Cheatham is the head of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association.
Several vacant houses in that part of West Baltimore collapsed over the weekend.
Cheatham says there are 325 more -- just in his neighborhood.

“We want to know what are the conditions of these houses. Have the homes been inspected? And then what are they going to do?” he said.

Hopkins says the events of the past week have exposed a problem -- now he's calling for accountability, for both the owners of vacant properties, and the city of Baltimore.

“Whatever you do, you cannot leave it in a state of deterioration because one, it's eroding the fiber of Baltimore,” he said.  “It's eroding the community. It's an eyesore. And it's a danger to the community and to other dwellings surrounding it.”

**Editor's Note: A previous version of this story stated the wrong organization provided estimates on the number of vacants in the city. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.

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