A Year Older

Dear Readers,

It was one year ago today that I sat down to write the very first blog post.  When I started this blog, I had no idea anyone would read it, let alone care about the issue.  I could never imagine the number of people who would send emails, leave comments, and join our Facebook group, or follow us on Twitter.

Over the course of the past year, we’ve seen a few houses fixed up, a few demolished, and many continue to languish — empty and abandoned, a constant reminder that Baltimore has a long way to go in the struggle against poverty, crime, and apathy.  Those of you who have contributed in even the smallest of ways have convinced me to keep going — you’ve convinced me that we can make a difference. People are listening — people who have the ability to change things in this city.  We’ve succeeded in making people uncomfortable, showing people that life does not exist in a vacuum, and accountability and transparency are more than political buzzwords.

So I guess this is my roundabout way of saying thanks for a great year, and we look forward to the day when — with your help — we can finally write ourselves out of existence, the day when the problems that plague our city no longer exist.  I am forever grateful for your help, backstage cheerleading, and even your angry emails.

Here’s to the day when “blight” is no longer a word used to describe our neighborhoods.

Your Faithful Editor

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  1. PPNA Matt

    Happy Anniversary! I hope that by the time that your second anniversary rolls around 1) the MD legislature passes a bill that would allow Baltimore to enact a split-level property tax structure, 2) crooks such as Milton Tillman, Ken Koehler, and Stanley Rochkind get locked up, and 3) the city starts unloading their properties to reputable home rehabbers.

    • slumlordwatch

      Sounds great to me! Hopefully our new leader is listening…!

    • cindy z

      you don’t even know him and that is a shame he is a good person who was smart enough to purchase and rehab some of the abandon properties in Baltimore and make a profit no different than Donald Trump .. besides anyone of you who are making ignorant comments would do the same if yall had the time, money and opportunity

      • slumlordwatch

        I’m confused. Who are you referring to when you say “he is a good person”?

  2. Congrats! Keep up the great work–your efforts continue to motivate and inspire those of us who care about our cities.

    • slumlordwatch

      Thank you so much — and the best of luck to you in Richmond as well!

  3. Pete from Highlandtown

    Congratulations on blogging for a year !
    I recently discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago. Because of the subject matter it would be inapropriate to say that i “enjoy” it.But i do think that it is informative and i look forward to your posts.

    One problem that i thnk Baltimore has is that many people ,including our political leadership, seem to think that we can ignore our problems or sweep them under the rug.After all , we have The Inner Harbor!What else do we need !They seem incapable of realising that the large qaunity of abandoned housing affects us all.My friends in Canton and Fells Point cant understand why their property taxes are so high.Often they dont make the connection between their high taxes and the fact that much of the housing stock in the city is worthless as far as taxation is concerned.Of course the City has to then tax the heck out of the few areas that have houses that are actually worth something!

    In a way Detroit has an advantage over us in that they KNOW that they have a problem with crime,abandoned housing and a city that discourages businesses from investing in it.

    I found many blogs about Detroit and other cities talking about these issues.Most Baltimore blogs seem to be about where are the fanciest places to eat ,or they are sports blogs.There is nothing wrong with that per say. But i would like to thank you for filling the void .

    I wish that there were more blogs like this in Baltimore .And like you ,i hope that someday there wont be a need for blogs like this.

    • slumlordwatch

      Thanks for the comment, Pete. We couldn’t agree more about the property taxes. If the city ever cleans up its act, they should be able to lower property taxes — because they’d have a larger tax base. To me it seems like common sense — and I can’t figure out why the city lets these properties languish.

      Honestly, I’m leaning towards the radical idea proposed by the mayor of Flint, Michigan — tear down some of these neighborhoods and return them to green spaces. Baltimore loses population every year — why not make the city great for those who stay? There are entire neighborhoods in Baltimore with little or no residents — and most of the abandoned homes in these neighborhoods aren’t worth salvaging.

      Keep what’s worth something, get rid of the rest.

      • Pete from Highlandtown

        Thank you for your reply.Iwould have to disagree slightly with your view of demolishing housing.Some blocks are in bad shape. But many of the houses simply need to be rehabbed.If the City brought back the “Dollar House” program they could get a lot of them inhabitted.

        I could be wrong , but my understanding was that in the original $ House program the City provided low interest loans to the homeowners as well as advice on how to fix up the property.And they were apparently able to keep out the speculators with certain requirements.

        I hate to sound cynical , but i think that the City doesnt want to have that kind of program because there is nothing in it for the politicians.On the other hand if they wait long enought they think that a big developer will come along and buy up huge areas.This will lead to campaign contributions and/or bribes.Its a weird version of the movie “Field of Dreams”. They think that if they sit on the property long enough “they will come”.

        For the record i live on the block below 26 N. Curly [on your fliker page] and i run a small interior demolition company. So i have both a financial and a personal interest in the abandoned houses being fixed up.

        Last month , in order to drum up business , i had some postcard size business cards made.I walked through the decent areas of Baltimore and put them under the door of the vacant houses that i saw. I have gone through two thousand already !I only put them under vacant houses.And only in areas where it was fairly decent and safe[ Pigtown, Remington,Patterson Park area,ect].To have that many vacant houses in the ” GOOD” areas is mind boggling to me! For every boarded up house there are at least a couple vacant that have the “winterised” signs in the window. So the boarded up houses are only the tip of the iceberg.

        Its not just about my business either.As a resident of Highlandtown it is saddening for me to see once bueatiful homes boarded up. And only 40 miles away from some of the richest areas [Montgomery County,ect] in America.
        I am sure that a lot of people who work in DC would love to have some of these old rowhouses.But the city has to be willing to sell them first.And the City has to make the areas safe.

        Once again thank you for writing on your blog about these issues.

        • slumlordwatch

          Some of the homes should absolutely be restored — however, you have large tracts of land in Baltimore with nothing but vacant houses on them. Those neighborhoods are costing the city millions of dollars in infrastructure costs, loss of tax revenue, and police and fire resources. Returning those tracts to open space would allow the city to shrink its land mass, thereby reducing infrastructure costs — usually a city’s largest outlay of cash.

          And Pete, I’m so glad you brought up the “winterized” houses. I agree with you 110% that the boarded up vacants are only the tip of the iceberg. I actually had quite the “discussion” with one of my neighbors about that very topic — he couldn’t understand why I felt the “vacant not ugly” homes were just as much of a problem as the “vacant uglies”. What happens when nobody buys or maintains the winterized homes — it’s only a matter of time before they turn into vacant eyesores….

  4. Good Luck on your second year. I think your blog is great and it has given me a few idea for the vacant homes/buildings that are in Delmar.

    • slumlordwatch

      Thanks, Delmar — keep us posted on what you’re doing where you live!

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