Category: Charity Begins At Home

Behind on Your Water Bill or Property Taxes?

Don’t let your home go to auction — there is legal help available!

The Pro-Bono Resource Center of Maryland, along with MVLS, is holding three community workshops where lawyers will discuss both foreclosure and tax sales. If you’re behind on your water bill or property tax, don’t wait until it’s too late — find out what your rights are, and what options you have.  There are three sessions:

  • March 21, 2015, 9 AM to 3 PM
  • Poly-Western High School, 1400 W Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21209
  • April 9, 2015, 10 AM to 2 PM
  • Urban Business Center, 1200 W Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21223
  • April 15, 2015, 3 PM to 7 PM
  • Enoch Pratt Library, Southeast Anchor Branch, 3601 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224

For more information, and to register for the workshops, please call 443-703-3052.

Year-End Wrap

Posted from Housing Policy Watch:

Blighted vacant homes in BaltimoreAs 2014 draws to a close, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the work that’s been happening over the past year. You can support this work by going here and making a tax-deductible contribution that will be matched by the Warnock Foundation.

A total of 263 posts were written, between this website and the Housing Policy Watch project’s website.

Of those posts, we managed to highlight a total of 234 blighted nuisance properties, and updated you on 25 properties that were written about over the years. 18 of those properties were or are in some stage of the receivership process. Other issues that we pushed to the forefront in 2014:

  • Affordable rental housing for working families
  • The failure of our city and state property records
  • Strengthening Maryland’s housing laws to allow for honest property owners to shine, while ridding us of the financial and personal burdens of dealing with the bad ones.
  • Highlighting historically significant properties, and properties that have stories behind them that are worth sharing.
  • Showcasing well-done rehabs, giving encouragement to those who want to own and rehab properties within the bounds of the law.
  • Sending more viable properties to Baltimore Housing, in order to move them into receivership.

A few other 2014 highlights:

  • Three projects were started in other cities to draw attention to lax code enforcement and nuisance properties, bringing the total number of BSW-inspired projects to seven nationwide.
  • Completed two neighborhood maps (crime and property transfers), showing property ownership types in relation to areas of high crime. Work continues on the citywide map, and we’ve added a second neighborhood to the neighborhood mapping project.
  • Assisted neighbors with 37 nuisance properties, resulting in citations and cleanup efforts through referral to city agencies like Baltimore Housing and DPW, and community groups.

You can read about the upcoming work we’d like to accomplish in 2015 here and here. None of this work could be accomplished without all of the residents who email and leave comments on both websites, send photos, call about nuisance properties, share our work on Facebook and Twitter, and of course — donate. Your financial contribution is so important to keeping both of these projects alive, and right now your donations are being doubled by a matching fund from the Warnock Foundation, allowing for even more accomplishments in 2015. Please donate today!






Your Generous Support is Appreciated!

Our “sister” organization, Housing Policy Watch, has received a generous matching grant from the Warnock Foundation. Every donation HPW receives will be matched, up to $30,000.

This important work cannot be done without public support, and every dollar counts — now, every dollar is worth even more! Please make a tax-deductible contribution today — double the funding means double the work!

Join Housing Policy Watch, October 24 7 to 11 PM

Reposted from HPW:

Please join us for Pretty Vacant: A Silent Auction and Fundraiser, October 24th from 7 to 11 PM.  Featuring art from some local and international artists, food, drinks — the event is being held at Gallery 788, 3602 Hickory Avenue, in Hampden.  The event is free, but come prepared to bid!  Proceeds to benefit Housing Policy Watch, and a portion of your winning bid is tax deductible!

Featured Artists:


Please use the Eventbrite page or Facebook event page to RSVP.




Clinic Saturation is Bad for Patients, Bad for Neighborhoods

Reposted from Housing Policy Watch:

As Baltimore continues to try to re-shape itself, an increase in social-service businesses, particularly methadone clinics, have started to pop up in a handful of neighborhoods, to the dismay of neighbors. While everyone agrees that drug treatment facilities are sorely needed in Baltimore City, particularly as the poverty rate climbs, it’s unfair to burden a tiny selection of neighborhoods with the majority of clinics and treatment centers.

The folks from the Central Baltimore Partnership sent out an email that resonated with me, since I live in Pigtown (home of one of the city’s largest treatment centers, Baltimore Behavioral health) and I also often work in Central Baltimore.  I think it’s important to realize these aren’t a bunch of NIMBY’s — in fact, I think they have some valid points, and other neighborhoods should be open to the idea of treating their addicts closer to home. I definitely agree the burden should be spread around the city, and not concentrated in a small handful of communities, particularly communities that are walking a fine line between healthy and not.

This is their email (reprinted with permission, slightly edited for clarity), along with a petition that I encourage you to sign if you live in Central Baltimore:

Central Baltimore Partnership has started the petition “Joshua Sharfstein: Recognize Clinic Saturation (concentration) is Harmful For Patients – Consider Location Before Citing New Clinics.” and need your help to get it off the ground.

Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now?

Here’s why the petition is important:

  • Too many clinics concentrated in one geographic area has negative repercussions for patients and for the neighborhoods surrounding the concentration of clinics.
  • We would like to see the problem addressed with smaller, localized treatment centers that increase the opportunity for patient recovery, decrease the stigmatization of treatment, and reduce that unhealthy and often dangerous ecosystem that develops around the mega-clinics.

We have become increasingly concerned with the unintended consequences of placing too many treatment facilities and treatment slots servicing too many patients in the same area. We appreciate that many clinic operators are doing critically important work addressing very real substance abuse issues in the city of Baltimore, but we believe that the concentration has enabled and even caused the development of an ecosystem of street drug use, dealers, and predators in the neighborhood that is bad for the patients and bad for the community.

We have analyzed data from the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and see that in excess of 80% of the patients being served at methadone clinics in zip code 21218 come from other zip codes – from the standpoint of demand vs. supply, we are over-served, and we are not the only neighborhood that has fallen into this trap.

Conversely, the data shows that there are major sections of Baltimore City (and Baltimore County) that are underserved, with many patients but few or no neighborhood treatment options. We would like to see the problem addressed with smaller, localized treatment centers that increase the opportunity for patient recovery, decrease the stigmatization of treatment, and reduce that unhealthy and often dangerous ecosystem that develops around the mega-clinics.

We do not blame the patients – in fact, our concern and compassion for those seeking substance abuse treatment guides us in our decisions and recommendations just as much as our concern for the residents and business that call Central Baltimore their home. We believe that a community can be a lifeboat for those in need of substance abuse treatment, but that the clinics in Central Baltimore have packed too many people in a single boat, jeopardizing all.

You can sign the petition by clicking here.

Help Someone Who Gives So Much to Our City

Daryl Marciszewski, a Baltimore City fireman, is currently undergoing treatment for Chordoma — a rare cancerous tumor that is generally difficult to treat.

His friends, co-workers, and strangers are banding together to collect money to assist the family during this stressful time — please donate here, and please be generous.  These guys risk it all to keep City residents safe, and the least we can do is give back when they need it.  Yes, you can give anonymously.