Lots of good stuff in the news this week!
In the Baltimore Sun, Luke Broadwater reports the Housing Authority of Baltimore City has disbanded and laid off its Housing Security Unit. These were the folks responsible for “investigating illegal occupants, nuisance activity, unsecured vacants and vandalism”, according to the article.
Developer Mark Manzo wanted to demolish part of a historic 19th Century church to make way for a parking lot for his new townhouses in Butcher’s Hill. According to this Baltimore Brew article, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) denied the petition, as several neighbors, and District 13 Councilman Warren Branch protested the effort. One neighbor called the townhouses “boring”.
Vacants are everywhere, including Japan, says Business Insider.
Since you can’t talk about vacants without mentioning Detroit… S&P has downgraded Wayne County’s credit rating to two steps above “junk”, says Bloomberg. That’s gotta hurt.
You can’t really talk about vacants without mentioning Baltimore or HUD, either — and the Baltimore Sun reports that HUD is shrinking its Baltimore office staff by one-third, as part of a consolidation effort.
In the UK, investors and landlords are being targeted by mortgage scammers.
Speaking of the UK, Britain’s biggest mortgage fraudster was given an extra four years in prison for conspiring to defraud two banks of £61 million, according to the London Evening Standard. One of his previous scams was selling bogus manorial titles to Americans.
Dozens of homes in New Orleans were moved and then left to deteriorate, at taxpayer expense, according to WWLVT Channel 4. The nonprofit in charge of renovating the homes, Builders of Hope, is no longer involved in the project. If you recall, the Baltimore Sun reported back in 2012, the same nonprofit was supposed to partner with Ray Lewis to renovate 500 homes in Baltimore, and that seems to have gone nowhere.
You know life has taken a bad turn when the feds are busting down the door, looking for your 40+ year old son who’s living in your basement. Van Smith from the City Paper reports on former deputy mayor and state delegate Salima Siler Marriott’s latest woes.
And speaking of the feds — Philadelphia’s notorious “Slumlord Millionaire” Robert Coyle is on his way to the pokey after defrauding a couple of banks. Nevermind the fact that he’s allegedly swindled people in his “rent to own” schemes, and forced citizens in the Kensington neighborhood of Philly to live next to his blighted nasty homes…oh, and how about the fact that he treated his tenants worse than animals and forced some of them to live without plumbing or heat? But hey — he defrauded a couple of banks, so off to the clink he goes!
Because sometimes I like to save the best for last…
The man who raped a 13 year old girl in a vacant home (owned at the time by disbarred attorney John Reiff) has been sentenced to four life sentences. Count ‘em — 1-2-3-4. I would say justice has been served quite nicely — I hope he also has to pay for the counseling the survivor will need to be able to move past such a horror.
Home ownership rates fell to an 18-year low, according to a report issued by the US Census Bureau on Thursday.
Banks are retreating from low-income neighborhoods, especially those hit hard by predatory lending.
Should landlords be allowed to discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders? (Or conversely, should landlords be able to run “Section 8 Only” ads, thereby discriminating against those who work?)
To buy, or not to buy…the renter’s dilemma.
A two-alarm fire wiped out two homes in Baltimore — there have been lots of fires on the west side recently, hopefully BCFD Chief Clack is paying attention and realizes his plan to move a company to the east side would be unwise.
The Community Law Center is suing Scott Wizig, a large-scale slumlord who owns many of our city’s blighted homes. Nice to see other people are finally getting on board with running some of these folks out of town.
Should we continue to pour our tax dollars into the Inner Harbor and Harbor East? This letter-writer to the Sun says no.
Five years after a Philly woman lost her home to deed thieves, she finally gets the house back.
Can a neighborhood overcome its past? One neighborhood in Chicago has, despite its chilling origins.
If you live in Baltimore City, you won’t want to miss this important meeting regarding the second round of proposed irresponsible cuts to the fire department. Your home and family could be at risk!
Yet another mortgage fraudster who operated in a low-income part of Philly has been caught and charged with fraud. Slumlords and scam artists think if they prey on people in low-income areas they won’t get caught — WRONG!
Speaking of mortgage fraud — a Baltimore man won’t be tasting freedom for a while after scamming several lenders out of over $1 million for his “shabby” houses.
A Clinton, Maryland woman has been found guilty of mortgage fraud. Despite receiving income from the District of Columbia Housing Authority (Section 8 rent payments), she allowed the mortgages on all of her properties to go into default and pocketed the money.
Congrats to Poppleton residents for rallying around a neighborhood park, saving it from a stalled City development plan!
Henrico (Richmond, VA area) neighbors were up in arms over two vacant properties managed by an out of state firm — Channel 8 news investigated and got results.
Hamilton residents — you’re getting a new Royal Farms whether you want it or not. [I have to say, I agree with “HS” who left the comment “That’s the problem with one party politics–they don’t even have to pretend that they work for you.”]
Money-laundering charges were suddenly dropped against the owner of multiple blighted properties in Baltimore, Stewart Sachs.
Columbus mayor: City will spend money to demolish unsafe vacant homes.
In Chicago, a young girl was raped at gunpoint between two vacant homes in the West Englewood neighborhood. Neighbors say the vacants are more than just a threat to property values, and they want action.
Instead of paying lead paint lawsuit judgments, the city’s Housing Authority is paying for take-home cars for its employees, according to WBAL’s Jayne Miller.
Not to beat a dead horse, but PLEASE take the 2012 Baltimore Citizen Satisfaction Survey. It’s like voting — if you can’t be bothered to do it, you shouldn’t bother complaining about not being heard.
The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning has a summary of lead legislation for the 2012 Maryland Legislative session. Contact your legislators and ask them to support these important bills. (Link opens a PDF)
An elderly woman was found trapped in the collapsed rubble of a vacant home in Western Pennsylvania yesterday. The woman was trapped for two days.
Fantastic news for Philadelphia! Robert Coyle, the “Millionaire Slumlord” was charged with defrauding banks of $10 million. Hopefully now his homes can be put in the hands of people who will fix them up and live in them. And we hope he goes to prison for a long, long time.
Richmond, VA nonprofit warns of a “vacancy crisis” across the state. In 2010, vacant homes represented 9% of Virginia’s total housing stock.
Philadelphia could be doing more to stop blight, resident says.
Brooklyn (NY) residents have been living with no heat, no hot water, bad electric, and rats — now the slumlords are facing jail if issues are not resolved. Where was Bill DeBlasio and his Slumlord Watch List?
I think every bad property owner in Baltimore should suffer the same fate as the guy in this article from 1987.
Vacant house burns in Richmond, officials call it “suspicious”.
Beautiful photographs of vacant Detroit.
Newark, Ohio’s “Dirty Dozen” vacant homes to be torn down.
Baltimore landlord pleads guilty in lead paint case. Called a “habitual offender” by Ruth Ann Norton, Executive Director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, we hope this slumlord receives jail time — and other slumlords take notice. We’d also like to point out — this slumlord has received money from HABC, and has been jailed before…perhaps the courts need to send a stronger message to bad property owners.
It would seem incompetence and dishonesty aren’t unique to Baltimore’s Housing Authority — a former San Antonio area Housing Authority employee pleaded guilty to embezzling over $20,000 from the agency.
Vacant lot where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer once lived will be turned into green space.
Group alleges housing discrimination in Baltimore County.
Interesting approach to force banks to clean up their blighted foreclosures in Buffalo, NY. Great idea…maybe they’ll start a blog to go along with their sign campaign!
Salisbury (MD) government adopts a “three-strikes” policy, which requires landlords to pay the city after three verified police calls at one property. We’d love to see Baltimore adopt a similar ordinance.
Philadelphia woman takes owners of vacants to task — in a big way.
Have questions about purchasing bank-owned property? Jamie Smith Hopkins from the Baltimore Sun is looking for people to submit their questions for a future blog post.
Maryland ranks high on the list of states with mortgage fraud issues, according to WBAL.
Is it “Pigtown” or is it “Washington Village”? Does it matter? You decide — take the survey.
Patterson Park takes a unique approach to building a better community — with trees.
Apparently Anderson, SC has a problem with vacant homes. Maybe they need a slumlord watch!
North Philly community group takes charge of blight problem and demands answers from public officials.
Blight in London? In 1946, it was a problem. Commies and squatters, oh my!