Category: Your Tax Dollars At Work

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.

City Owned Blight: 4202 Audrey Avenue

Property Address: 4202 Audrey Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21225

Property Owner: Mayor and City Council, 417 E Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

City Council District and Contact:  District 10, Ed Reisinger

State Senator (District 46): William C. Ferguson IV

State Delegates (District 46): Luke H. Clippinger, Peter A. Hammen, Brooke E. Lierman

Thanks to Reader MC for the photo — according to her, the home has been vacant for 10+ years. Time to get this home back into circulation!

4202 Audrey Avenue

4202 Audrey Avenue

City Drops Ball, Citizens Go Public on Facebook, City Says “Don’t Do That”.

Residents in one Baltimore neighborhood have been complaining about one house for months. 311 calls, online complaints, emails to Councilman Curran’s office — and nothing was done…until the residents banded together on their neighborhood’s Facebook group, as reported by the Baltimore Brew.

For months, the residents of the home were dumping human waste into the alley, and leaving buckets of waste at the rear of the property. Neighbors filed multiple 311 complaints, called and emailed their councilman — all the things you’re supposed to do, as a good neighbor, to no avail. I happened to read about all of this on the neighborhood’s Facebook group, and sent an email to Baltimore Housing. Fern Shen of the Brew wrote about the issue, and inspectors were quickly dispatched to the property, where inspectors found more than they bargained for. As a result, the residents of the home have been moved out, and the house has been deemed uninhabitable by Baltimore Housing, and will be secured.

What irks me, however, are the statements made by Alli Smith, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Christine Muldowney, a staffer for Councilman Curran.

“I’m glad this issue was resolved eventually. In the future, if you need assistance with issues in the neighborhood, or need to know which agency can resolve a certain issue – the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods is a great resource and you can contact your neighborhood liaison directly,” said Alli Smith, deputy director of that office, writing on the Facebook thread.

“Yes, direct contact is best since there is no guarantee that a city liaison of Mayor or Council will see it,” agreed Christine Muldowney, a staffer for 3rd District Councilman Robert Curran. “I just accidentally saw post here.”

While I agree the initial complaint shouldn’t be on social media, I strongly disagree that these neighbors shouldn’t have complained publicly, using the tools available to them. Isn’t this what social media is for? And what about all of the residents’ 311 calls and emails to the councilman’s office? Why did they go ignored until the issue was made public by the Brew?

This isn’t the first time a resident living in squalor was ignored until it was made public. I’ve personally written about three, and there are many I didn’t write about — didn’t need to, since the issues were resolved through Baltimore Housing. You can read about one of the worst cases I wrote about here.

Many kudos to these residents, and to the Brew, for taking the initiative to get this issue resolved. Hopefully this story encourages more residents to band together, using all the tools available — including social media, to make their communities better.

 

Support City Council Bill 13-0293

Posted from Housing Policy Watch:

Introduced in the Baltimore City Council by Councilman Henry (District 4), this bill would expand the definition of vacant houses, giving Baltimore Housing the ability to levy fines against blighted nuisance properties faster, and impose harsher penalties against owners who did not comply. (Source: WBAL)

Many of our vacant structures are owned by absentee landlords, banks, or holding companies that have no plans to fix the problems — and have allowed these homes to fall into disrepair. Expanding the city’s ability to fine these owners and hold them accountable should go a long way towards cleaning up some of our blighted neighborhoods.

Two things that also need to happen before January when the bill goes to a vote, in order for this to be a success:

  1. The bill, once law, needs to be enforced. That could mean a line-item increase in Baltimore Housing’s budget for additional qualified housing inspectors.
  2. If these properties are sold at a municipal tax sale when the owners don’t pay the fines, there needs to be strict vetting of the people purchasing the homes, as to not further the chain of irresponsible ownership.

If the city is prepared to do these two things, let’s support this bill and make sure it becomes law. Contact your City Council representative and let them know you want this to pass — and let them know you expect there to be a clear plan for disposition of the properties, once seized.

For City Council district contact information, go here.

City-Owned Blight: 539 Sanford Place

Property Address: 539 Sanford Place, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner:  Mayor and City Council, 417 E Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

City Council District and Contact:  District 7, Nick Mosby

State Senator:  Catherine Pugh

State Delegates:  Barbara Robinson, Shawn Tarrant, Frank Conaway, Jr.

539 Sanford Place

539 Sanford Place

1826 W Fairmount Avenue

Note:  This property owners are the defendants in a lead paint lawsuit.  See Circuit Court case number 24C12001969 for more information.

Property Address:  1826 W Fairmount Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21223

Property Owner:  Kevin and Gregory L Brown, 4305 Norfolk Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21216

City Council District and Contact:  District 9, “Pistol” Pete Welch

State Senator:  Verna Jones Rodwell

State Delegates:  Keith HaynesKeiffer Mitchell JrMelvin Stukes

1826 W Fairmount Avenue

1826 W Fairmount Avenue

 

City-Owned Blight: 3307 and 3309 Virginia Avenue

Property Address:  3307 and 3309 Virginia Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215

Property Owner:  Mayor and City Council, 417 E Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

City Council District and Contact:  District 6, Sharon Green Middleton

State Senator:  Catherine Pugh

State Delegates:  Barbara RobinsonShawn TarrantFrank Conaway, Jr.

3307 and 3309 Virginia Avenue

3307 and 3309 Virginia Avenue