The city is misguided if it believes that demolishing vacant homes is the solution to providing affordable housing in Baltimore ("City 'affordable housing' fund destroys more houses than it builds," Dec. 21).
Demolishing vacant homes is myopic, since the number of vacant homes will increase as long as the city's population continues to decline. That alone will undermine any alleged improvements to public safety.
A 1996 demolition project targeting vacant housing stock in Camden, N.J., initially decreased the vacant housing stock of the city. Yet by the time of the 2000 census, there was actually an increase in the number of vacant units due to continued population decline.
Even if demolition efforts open up space which was previously uninhabitable, the city is left with no additional units of affordable housing and significantly lighter coffers. Real improvement would require the city to increase the supply of affordable housing.
In 2005, HUD estimated a nationwide shortage of about 6 million units of affordable housing, a number that has surely increased in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis. The city needs to be actively involved in subsidizing affordable housing and rehabilitating existing housing stock. Leaving it up to market forces to match supply and demand has not worked.