Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake may be on her way out of office in six weeks, but she’s not going without first knocking down some more dilapidated homes.
Tag: vacant homes
Baltimore has 16,000 vacant homes; on any given night, there are an average of 3,000 homeless people within the city limits. Putting those two facts next to each other begs an obvious question.
Vacant properties are a serious source of problems in Baltimore. Studies have shown that blocks with vacants have significantly higher reports of violence, theft, and drug crimes; abandoned houses lower nearby property values while at the same time draining already-strained municipal services. In Baltimore, the fight against vacant properties is complicated by landlords who live out of town. But Baltimore’s absentee landlords–slumlords, if you’re not feeling polite–are hopefully feeling a bit more uneasy this week, after a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge handed down a ruling against absentee landlord Scott Wizig.
This map by the mysterious “cham101” makes an elegant argument using nothing but data: Baltimore’s homicides tend to happen in neighborhoods with high vacancy rates. Of course, we all already knew that — but seeing it all mapped out like this makes it even more clear. Click here for a bigger version.
I’m always happy to see Baltimore make it into the national conversation, even when it’s a joke at our expense — as long as it’s funny. But this morning Business Insider ran an article titled “Baltimore Has Decided Some Neighborhoods Just Aren’t Worth Saving,” and I found it strangely troubling — particularly the article’s description of Baltimore as “a living city slowly turning into a ghost town.”
It’s not that I’m averse to sober assessments of our city’s plight. But it was strange to hear Baltimore’s struggle with vacancies described by an outsider to other outsiders. I couldn’t help feeling that the readers weren’t given the whole picture of what it means to live in Baltimore.
This feeling was confirmed by the comment section. In addition to many commenters who would like to blame our troubles on Obama, one reader wrote, “I live in Arizona and until I read this I didn’t realize how scary Baltimore was.” Another reader planned to send the pictures of abandoned buildings (blight porn?) accompanying the article overseas with the heading “the new face of the USA.”
What do you think, are middle-class Baltimoreans in denial about the state of the city? Or is “almost a ghost town” a distorted assessment?