Vacants to Values

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.

2 comments

  1. RobertJStrupp

    This program should also REQUIRE pre-purchase housing counseling for all participants. At only 500K, how many people will actually be able to buy and rehab these properties?

    • slumlordwatch

      Agreed — pre-purchase counseling should be mandatory, especially for first-time homebuyers. Then we can avoid the “I only make $30K yet my realtor said I can afford this $400K house” scenario. I’m not confident the program will make a big dent in the city’s problem with vacants — the program seems to be under-funded, and some of these homes simply require too much work (and money) to make it worthwhile. Hopefully it won’t turn into yet another free-for-all by dishonest “homeowners” who flip the properties while claiming a tax exemption…while they’re actually living elsewhere. It would be nice to have more police officers, fire fighters, and teachers in our city neighborhoods — it would be nice to see a better-planned, better-funded program.

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