According to an article in the Baltimore Business Journal, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is rolling out a new program to encourage homeownership among teachers, fire fighters, and police officers. Called “Vacants to Values”, the program will provide tax incentives for those who purchase vacant homes in Baltimore City.
We think this is a great idea, and would love to see the program expanded to include service workers, nonprofit employees, and other dedicated service people who believe in shoring up Baltimore’s neighborhoods — of course in order for the program to be expanded, the City would have to increase the budget, which is now set at a half million dollars. Not a lot, but a good start.
With that said, however, we’d like to remind Mayor Rawlings-Blake that similar programs already exist in the City — and we’d like to see language included in the program description, similar to that of the homeowner tax credit, that would require the purchaser to live in the home for a period of no less than two to five years. And we hope that language is set in stone — with fiscal penalties for those who simply buy the home (with City assistance, your tax dollars) and flip it — or even worse, allow it to remain vacant.