Mayor’s Conversation Update

A report from the Mayor’s Conversation on Vacant Homes:

“You will probably not be surprised to know that the meeting last night was a bit disappointing. The heads of all the housing-related departments were there, and gave their spiels. Paul Graziano, Michael Braverman, Jackie Cornish, etc. It was interesting for a little bit, and then became excrutiatingly not-interesting. Then the public comment section started, which was of course mostly people complaining about individual problems with individual properties, at which point we left the meeting in order to save ourselves.

They were plugging the Land Bank a lot last night, which I support in principal, but am not sure about how it applies in real life. Haven’t they already had a Land Bank in St. Louis for something like 40 years? — and I’m not sure it’s produced any impressive results. I’d have to double-check that, but I think I’ve read that somewhere. And [another person] who joined me there pointed out that everyone was talking about rehabbing houses, which is good, but no one was talking about how to create a demand to get people back into those houses. Which of course, just gives you houses that look nicer but are still vacant.”

Unfortunately, this is what we expected from the meeting, although we did hope for a little more than neighbors complaining about neighbors, and the usual contingent of rehabbers who don’t seem to understand that the boom is over.  It’s wonderful to want to rehab homes, but as the person illustrated above — unless you have people to buy them, all you have are pretty vacant homes instead of ugly ones.  That doesn’t build healthy communities, nor does it help the tax base.

We’re solidly backing the Outer Harbor Initiative to help fix the “rest” of Baltimore.



  1. Jeff

    Somehow, this is less than shocking. It seems like those of us that live in the city and care will have to work harder to make up for the lack of caring by the Mayor and all the other city housing-related departments.

  2. Russ

    To whoever wrote the italicized portion of this blog: Is there a reason why you didn’t press the city to perform a root cause analysis of the problem instead of simply walking out of the meeting? It sounds like you have an understanding of some of the deeper issues here, and were annoyed at the public for their individual concerns. At least they were speaking out. Avoiding the issues and sneaking out of a forum like that does nothing to solve the problem.

    • slumlordwatch

      Hi Russ —

      While I did not write the italicized portion, I can tell you that the speaker is not someone who has not fought long and hard to improve the city. I don’t know how active you are in terms of attending meetings, but suffice to say that you can meeting yourself to death in Baltimore, and get absolutely nowhere. So I share his frustration, and it’s one of the reasons why a couple of us started this blog. We get the word out, attend meetings here and there, and promote programs (like the Outer Harbor Initiative) that we think have enough “teeth” to take hold in our city.

      I think it has less to do with issue avoidance, and more to do with listening to the same spiel over..and over…and over…ad nauseum.

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