Tagged: Public Justice Center

Charity Begins at Home: The 2013 Edition

It’s that time of year again — the recommended charities post.  Listen — I understand housing isn’t on the top of everyone’s list, and I totally respect that.  If you’d like to donate to Housing Policy Watch, great.  If housing just isn’t your thing — here’s a list of charities we know and love.  There’s something for everyone on this year’s list!  (List is in no particular order.)

  • Public Justice Center does a lot of work on fair wage issues, workplace justice, immigration, and civil right to counsel.
  • 1000 Friends of Maryland works for smarter development across Maryland, and environmental issues.
  • Healthcare for the Homeless — that’s pretty self-explanatory.
  • Roberta’s House is a safe place for people, particularly children, who are mourning the loss of a loved one.  They offer counseling and a summer camp for families in need.
  • BARCS and the Maryland SPCA help abandoned animals find new homes and promote responsible pet ownership.  The SPCA also advocates for stricter penalties for those who are found guilty of animal cruelty.
  • Baltimore Heritage works hard to preserve and promote Baltimore’s many historic structures.  They also offer walking tours, happy hours, and other events to get communities involved in historic preservation.
  • Maryland Legal Aid is a nonprofit legal services provider that works with people who are primarily low-income.  Contrary to what I’ve heard people say — Legal Aid is not the same as the Public Defender’s Office, nor is it a state agency.  They’re one of the few resources for people who are in need of representation in a civil matter.
  • Another nonprofit legal resource to those with limited means, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service assists people statewide in a variety of legal areas — all attorneys are volunteers who work for other law firms.

Thank you for your generosity!


Recommended Charitable Giving 2012

As you’re contemplating the many deserving charities for your end of the year giving, here are some of our favorites — they’re all local, and they all work hard to make Baltimore a better city, despite the odds.  Give often, and give generously!

A few new additions to the list for 2012, some of the same great groups from 2011:

Why these charities and not others that might be equally as deserving?  I have experience with all of them in some way.  I know the executive directors, or I’ve watched them carefully over the years.  These organizations have a few qualities in common:

  • They spend more on programs and/or direct services than they do on swank office space or fundraising/admin costs.
  • They’re organizations that work on the ground, directly making a difference — they “do” more than they “talk”.

So please — be generous.  Without these organizations, Baltimore would surely suffer even more than it already suffers now.  We can’t build a better city without them.

Rent Court Workshops

Recent changes have been made to Maryland law regarding lead paint certificates, and landlord licensing and evictions.  Two workshops will be held in order to tenants and other interested parties to learn more about the changes, and also general landlord-tenant law.  Representatives from Baltimore Housing, the Public Justice Center, and the Maryland Multi-Housing Association will be on hand to answer questions.

The workshops will be held on November 14 and December 10, both at 12:15 PM at the District Court building, 500 Fayette Street, First Floor.

Both workshops are free.

Link Roundup

The Tenants in Foreclosure project of the Public Justice Center won an award!  Congrats to attorney Matt Hill and his staff for this much-deserved award.  If you or someone you know is living in a rental that is being foreclosed on, you should contact the Public Justice Center — you have rights, make sure they’re protected!

Housing prices continue to fall, according to a Case-Shiller/S&P report.

Housing Authority Director Paul Graziano continues to deny  responsibility for lead paint payments.  And in this article from the Baltimore Sun, City Councilman Jim Kraft says (out loud!) what the rest of us have been saying all along:  Paul Graziano is a liar.

Think your 311 complaints are anonymous?  Guess again.

State lab employees resent having to actually work, so they destroyed blood samples in a lab?  More shady behavior in lead paint cases, sad.

The City Council took Paul Graziano to task (being called a liar was only the beginning…) and you can read his side of the story here (link opens a PDF file).  Sorry, Mr. Graziano — HABC needs to pay these judgments.  HABC owned the homes, children were poisoned, and it’s your responsibility as the director of HABC to ensure the safety of these children — and pay dearly when you fall down on the job.

Upcoming Workshop for Tenants in Foreclosure

The Public Justice Center in Baltimore will be holding a workshop on December 14th for tenants who live in properties that are in foreclosure.  You can get more details here. (Link opens a PDF flier).

They also have a brochure and other links pertaining to tenants in foreclosure here.  You do have rights — make sure they’re protected!

News Roundup Plus Enforcement Actions from the MDE

Congratulations to the Public Justice Center for successfully arguing in favor of a tenant’s rights in a foreclosure lawsuit brought by JP Morgan Chase.  We wrote about the Public Justice Center last month in a post about tenants’ rights.  If you are a tenant and your home is in foreclosure, you do have rights — make sure you’re protected!

The Maryland legislative session for 2010 starts tomorrow.  Now is the time to start asking your state representatives to allow Baltimore City to enact the Split-Level Property tax rate, which would mean higher property taxes for owners of abandoned nusiance homes.  We wrote about the tax hike for slumlords here and here, if you need more information.  If you need to find your legislator’s contact information, you can click here.  (And thanks to bthesite.com for the mention!)

In other news, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued enforcement actions against 9 property owners in Baltimore City, for lead paint violations:

  • Russell O. Page: 3 affected properties, $21,000 in fines
  • Larry Dawkins and Alice Dawkins:  10 affected properties, $16,500 in fines
  • John C. Dailey, Lorraine M. Dailey, and Deborah Carter: 3 affected properties, $55,000 in fines
  • 3125 Virginia Avenue, LLC:  1 affected property, $25,000 in fines
  • Maurice Harrison:  5 affected properties, $30,000 in fines
  • Kevin Baughan and JTL Management #2, LLC:  4 affected properties, $25,000 in fines
  • Emmanuel Nwokolo and Catherine Nwokolo:  7 affected properties, $25,000 in fines
  • Adger Harvin, Jr. and Doris R. Harvin: 4 affected properties, $21,500 in fines
  • Ronald Andrews and Theresa Andrews:  11 affected properties, $18,000 in fines
  • De Soto Apartments, LLC, Magnolia Properties Management, LLC, Charles Goldsborough, and Magnolia Property Management, Inc:  1 affected property, $10,000 in fines (paid in full).

You can read the entire MDE press release here.

Tenants’ Rights and Foreclosure

Did you know that as a tenant, you have rights when your home is being foreclosed on, regardless of your income level?

From the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

On May 20, 2009, the President signed into a law a bill containing provisions protecting tenants living in foreclosed buildings. (The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act is Title VII of Public Law 111-22).

These provisions immediately went into effect and are “self-executing”, so no federal agency (such as HUD) is responsible for making them work.  It is up to advocates to make sure that tenants, landlords, public housing authorities, courts, the legal community, and others involved in the foreclosure process are aware of these new rights for tenants.

You can download letter templates to use if you’re in this situation from the NLIHC, and the Public Justice Center in Baltimore has more information and a brochure about the law that you can download.