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You Tell Us: What Should Be Done About Vacant Houses?

Patch wants to know what readers want to see done with one of Baltimore's more persistent problems.

 

Vacant houses are a problem throughout the area, especially for a city that has seen its population dwindle from 787,741 in 1980 to 620,986 in the lastest census.

From McCabe Avenue to Remington, empty houses are a conundrum for neighborhoods striving to stay healthy.

Solutions for the problem have included of these properties to grouping them together to entice developers to and rehab the homes. However, some critics argue that demolition efforts destroy communities and large scale rehabilitation may lead to gentrification.

But now Patch wants to know if readers have any creative and realistic solutions. Tell me how you would address the problem in the comments section.

John February 01, 2012 at 01:36 AM
At this point I'll take gentrification over crack houses any day.
ralahinn1 February 01, 2012 at 07:46 AM
I'd like to see organizations get together to rehab these places by training people to do construction and the places either used to home the homeless or be put on the market as" starter" homes. There should be a limit as to how many may be owned at one time, so that no one thinks of becoming an area " slum lord".Too, first chance at ownership should go to teachers, police, fire crews and military families, and there should be no renting / ownership allowed to anyone who can not prove they are legal citizens of the US.
Gocharly February 01, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Sell them to anyone who wants to buy one, with caveats of course. Many government programs require a buyer to the house for a certain period of time before renting and to provide a plan for rehabbing the home and show that they have the income, time, or skill to do the work. A low selling price, $1000-2500, will offset the cost of selling the property and the city then gets property taxes sooner rather than never
AnnKangarouse February 01, 2012 at 01:58 PM
How many vacant properties are currently owned by Baltimore City?
Fran Minges February 01, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Community Law Center is supporting amendments to the Community Bill of Rights law in this year’s Legislative Session that will make it easier for neighbors to take action against nuisance properties in their communities. The changes will make it easier for people to seek remedies in Court from the owner of a property that poses a danger to the health, welfare or safety of houses around it. You can help support Senate Bill 130 and House Bill 365 by writing to your State Senator and Representative in support of these bills (find their information here: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/05sen/html/sendist.html ). We are also having a community meeting at the Conference Room of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland (4 East University Parkway, 21218) on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 from 6 – 8 PM. For more information about the bill, please contact Community Law Center at www.communitylaw.org
Adam Bednar (Editor) February 01, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Thank you for sharing Fran.
steph February 02, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Selling them to members of the community at very low prices with stipulations attached could be a solution for some locations. For larger blocks of vacant homes I think demolition with substitution of community gardens with chicken coops is another. There are not nearly enough community parks in the city but a garden would be more useful. This city is already ruled by developers, it's time that residents needs were given priority over those that leech off the system. There not enough jobs in this city to lure people to fill newly developed homes.
AnnKangarouse February 02, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Adam, aproximately how many vacant properties are owned by the city?
Fran Minges February 02, 2012 at 03:29 PM
In the announcement from the City of the Vacants to Value program, the press release says: "Baltimore is now challenged with approximately 16,000 vacant buildings, roughly 25% of which are city owned. "
AnnKangarouse February 02, 2012 at 05:12 PM
WOW! Thanks for the info Fran! Is this number specific to the Vacants to Value Program? I thought I'd read a much higher number a year or so ago. This may have included other city owned properties though (Homes and former local small businesses) that the city used eminent domain to obtain.
Willothwisp February 21, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I would love for the adverse possession statute of limitations to be lowered in the city. People who need a place to live can move in these houses with absentee owners, have a free place to live while making or keeping the house habitable, and improve the neighborhoods. It may encourage absentee owners to either sell or rent these vacant homes that are just magnets for trouble.
AnnKangarouse February 21, 2012 at 04:02 PM
So if the city is in violation with regard to vacant and abandoned (and crumbling) properties, who then can (or will) hold them accountable?

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