A Baltimore housing official blames a group of "maniacs" for distributing fliers that accuse the city and state of planning to relocate hundreds of public housing tenants to Reservoir Hill.
The fliers started showing up in the West Baltimore neighborhood in early September. Their origin is unknown.
The latest handbill is adorned with drawings that include a clenched fist, a cross and what appears to be a Star of David. It warns Reservoir Hill residents of an effort to relocate tenants from George B. Murphy Homes to three apartment buildings and a vacant day-care center in the neighborhood.
"THE NEW MURPHY HOMES ARE AT YOUR DOORSTEP ACT FAST TO SAVE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD OR LIVE IN HELL," the flier says.
Murphy Homes is a West Baltimore public housing complex that has been plagued by drug-related violence.
Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the city Housing Authority, said yesterday the fliers' message is false.
"We are definitely not moving people there. And the word I stress is not. N-O-T," Mr. Toohey said.
The fliers cite the Good News Day Care Center at Park Avenue and West North Avenue and three apartment buildings: Temple Gardens, at 2601 Madison Ave.; The Esplande, at 2525 Eutaw Place; and The Emersonian, at 2502 Eutaw Place.
Mr. Toohey said the day-care center has been vacant for "some time", adding: "There's maniacs behind that flier."
The apartment buildings are owned by Renaissance Plaza Limited Partnership. But the partnership defaulted on a $7 million loan from the state Community Development Administration more than a year ago, and the buildings have since been under state control, awaiting appointment of receiver. So far, no developer has been chosen to renovate the buildings, but all of the tenants have been told that they will be relocated to vacant apartments within the buildings once the renovation work begins.
The fliers have sparked an angry reaction from some of the Reservoir Hill residents. They suspect the flier is being used to drive low- and moderate-income renters from the neighborhood to make way for homeowners.
Lisa Williams, who has lived in the Temple Gardens apartments for four years, said the flier was inflammatory and divisive.
"We're trying to unite Reservoir Hill," Ms. Williams said. "It's designed to put fear in people's hearts."
Helen Dale, who has lived in Temple Gardens for 10 years, said:
"We have a stable, diverse cross section of people living here. This is an historic African-American community. We're committed to staying, and we can all live together."