Governing: To get rid of blight, Baltimore tries something new

Governing, November 28, 2018: To get rid of blight, Baltimore tries something new 

In 1950, Baltimore was the sixth most populous city in America, with nearly 1 million residents. As the suburbs beckoned and industrial jobs left the city, so too did the people. Last year, the population was down to 611,648 and dropping at an accelerating pace. But while the people have departed, the homes they occupied are still there. The list of 16,000 vacant houses has remained constant for the last decade.

Baltimore has a housing problem that many cities have; it’s just worse there than in most of them. But not all: Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia, among others, are saddled with similarly vast expanses of unused, dilapidated housing.

Run-down houses are being offered for sale by Vacants to Value, a program Baltimore has created to get people back into some of the many thousands of abandoned homes that plague the city. Targeting streets and neighborhoods that seem to offer the best chance of recovery, the program offers city-owned vacant homes at low prices to developers and individuals alike. Buyers must prove they can afford to purchase a property. They also have to secure funding to rehabilitate it, which costs much more than buying it. And they must do this within a prescribed amount of time, usually one year.


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