Mayor Announces Vacants to Value Clinton Initiative Commitment

The city starting in 2013 has vowed to demolish and rehabilitate 3,000 homes.

In celebrating the second anniversary of the city’s Vacants to Value initiative, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Baltimore would participate in the Clinton Global Initiative’s Commitment to Action by eliminating 3,000 vacant homes.  

On Tuesday, Rawlings-Blake announced the city, as part of the commitment, will demolish 1,500 vacant homes and will rehab 1,500 homes through the Vacants to Value program staring in January 2013, according to a news release.

"President [Bill] Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) to address economic recovery in the United States," Rawlings-Blake said in a news release. "Vacants to Value is now two years old, and we have the momentum to meet this ambitious goal, which will positively affect nearly 18,000 people."

The most visible use of the city’s Vacants to Values program in North Baltimore has been on McCabe Avenue, where the city has demolished some homes and partnered with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake to restore others.

Members of the Woodbourne-McCabe Community Association and the York Road Partnership have lobbied the city for years to address the vacant homes on McCabe Avenue because they were creating a drag on the surrounding communities.

According to the city the program has already had a huge impact in Baltimore after only two years:

  • Property sales have increased fivefold, from 100 in fiscal year 2010 to 524 in fiscal year 2012.
  • The City has issued more than 700 citations, at a cost of $900, to vacant building owners who have failed to maintain their properties, spurring more than $23 million in private investment.
  • More than 450 vacant properties have been rehabbed or are undergoing rehab.
  • The City has sold 90 percent of City-owned properties in community development clusters.
  • 117 $10,000 Homeownership Booster Program incentives have been provided; 25 percent of these homeowners are new to the city.
  • City wide, 245 vacant and blighted properties have been demolished, and the Power In Dirt initiative handed over more than 700 vacant lots (over 31 acres of land) to non-profits and residents.

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Baltimore Matt November 27, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Only 245 vacant and blighted properties have been demolished??? There are so many homes that are prohibitively expensive to rehab that 245 represents fewer homes that those that have reached that level of blight this year. The city needs to invest more in wrecking balls and returning these buildings to acreage and re-parceled into what types of properties are in demand today (not just the 12x60 foot lots with 1200 square foot row houses on them as they are they are today). Yes, we can have some homes rebuilt but when the economics of rehabbing these homes are just not there (most of the homes that are in poor condition are in less desirable neighborhoods with lower property values, which is the major reason why the private housing market has not rehabbed the home in the first place ), we need to use more drastic means. It’s easy for people who live in better areas to say that we can simply give people the homes to fix up but unless you take into account the economics of truly blighted neighborhoods (where the cost of obtaining and fixing up the home is more than the potential value no matter how much was initially paid) you will see that the wrecking ball and returning the land to acreage must be the policy for a majority of blighted homes. Furthermore, why would we pay to fix up houses that were not built with our 21st century lifestyles in mind when we can create entire new communities that are.
Sean Tully November 28, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I'm with Matt. Although I am not clear on what he means by building "new communities" that fit our 21st century lifestyles, I have been rethinking this idea of building new homes that fit the "characteristics" of Baltimore City, i.e., rowhomes. I think if we started tearing down wide swaths of old, run down rowhomes, and replace them with single homes with lawns, etc., we might get more people moving in. Let's face it, Baltimore City will never have nearly 1 million people living here again, at least not in my lifetime, but we could get more people moving in if we offer a little space in between homes.


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