Letter to Mayor Scott Addressing Vacant Housing

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100 Holiday Street, Suite 400 Baltimore, Maryland 21202 410-593-4804 • Fax 410-539-0647

NICK J. MOSBY Council President

council.president@baltimorecity.gov

BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 21202 February 3, 2022 The Honorable Brandon M. Scott, Mayor City of Baltimore Room 250, City Hall 100 Holliday Street Baltimore, MD 21202 via email: Mayor@BaltimoreCity.gov Re: Addressing Vacant Houses Dear Honorable Mayor Scott: On Monday, January 31st, your Administration aptly called on all City agencies to provide a full accounting of their efforts to reduce the number of vacant homes in Baltimore City over the next thirty days. As your partners in progress, the City Council stands ready to serve the residents of this city by doubling down on our commitment to #HouseBaltimore by introducing and passing legislation that will address our city’s growing housing inequity. In this Council’s first year, we worked diligently alongside the Administration to address Baltimore citizens’ immediate needs. Together, we were able to extend late fees for renters, close an eviction loophole, and create a security deposit assistance grant program. One year later, the time for partnership is upon us again and the City Council is ready to respond. Over the next thirty days, the City Council will zealously work to develop solutions to deter property owners from neglecting and abandoning their property. The next phases of our #HouseBaltimore legislative package will also continue to address disparities in affordable housing and combat homelessness. The City Council will work to strengthen our city’s inclusionary housing zoning laws; create a short-term rental assistance program for residents in street violence reduction, diversion, or job training programs and establish tax credits for entrepreneurs and homebuyers with student loan debt to create mixed-income communities. The goal of #HouseBaltimore is to ensure residents have the chance to buy a house they can afford, live in those homes and use the property to ultimately create generational wealth for their families. It will also help to eliminate many of the vacant houses that currently plague neighborhoods throughout Baltimore City: 3,000 of which are City-owned. In November, our joint pledge to join the #HouseAmerica initiative, led by Sec. Marcia Fudge, was the first step on this long road towards equitably distributing this $641 million in federal relief to our residents. On February 15th, the City Council’s Ways and Means Committee will hold a quarterly oversight hearing on the distribution of American Rescue Plan funds. This historic funding represents a once-in-lifetime opportunity to address the 15,000 vacant properties and expand the city’s capacity to equitably meet our residents’ many service needs.


Just last week, our city signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ racial equity compact and recently received $20 million from JP Morgan Chase to make further investments to address the racial wealth divide. Again, all eyes are on Baltimore City and this additional support presents a great opportunity to invest in our legacy residents by providing Baltimore’s families with safe, stable and secure housing. This noble pursuit to #HouseAmerica starts locally with our work to #HouseBaltimore, which is fitting given that our city is the birthplace of the country’s first racial zoning law. While this will be an arduous task, this City Council is dedicated to delivering on your directive because policy can be the prescription to our city’s deepest, most rooted ills. The countdown is on to get this right and your City Council is up for the challenge. In Partnership,

Nick J. Mosby City Council President

Cc:

Chair Sharon Green-Middleton, Economic and Community Development committee Chair Danielle McCray, Health, Environment, Technology committee Chair Mark Conway, Public Safety and Government Operations committee Chair Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, Rules and Legislative Oversight committee Chair Eric Costello, Ways and Means committee Chair Robert Stokes, Education, Workforce, and Youth committee Councilmember Zeke Cohen, District 1 Councilmember Ryan Dorsey, District 3 Councilmember James Torrence, District 7 Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett, District 8 Councilmember John T. Bullock, District 9 Councilmember Phylicia Porter, District 10 Councilmember Antonio Glover, District 13 Councilmember Odette Ramos, District 14