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NEWS
By Matthew D. Gallagher | October 6, 2013
Baltimore is on the cusp of making once unimaginable progress in modernizing its obsolete public school facilities with more than $1 billion in investment over the next 10 years. Broad coalitions of supporters, feasible financing plans and the adoption of needed accountability systems, along with the alignment of civic and elected leadership sustained through the legislative process, helped achieve this potentially game-changing outcome. Such a hard-won victory illustrates what is possible and should galvanize our community to act on another of the city's biggest challenges: Baltimore's 16,000 vacant properties.
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NEWS
By Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun | December 28, 2013
A Baltimore woman who has gained national attention for a project intended to publicly shame those who own vacant houses in the city now faces two lawsuits from one of those owners. Brian Spern, an attorney representing the two business trusts that own 539 N. Longwood St. in West Baltimore and 4727 Old York Road in North Baltimore, filed the property damage tort claims earlier this month. The sole defendant is Carol S. Ott, who has run the Baltimore Slumlord Watch blog since 2009 and partnered earlier this year with a group of street artists who paint murals on the vacant homes.
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NEWS
By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun | February 9, 2011
Housing officials have sold more of the city's vacant homes in the first seven months of the budget year than in all of the previous year — but the sales still represent fewer than 3 percent of the 4,000 empty houses owned by the city. As housing advocates, community leaders and developers gather today for a day-long summit on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's "Vacants to Value" program, data from the city housing department indicate that despite incremental gains, officials are far from making a dent in the city's 30,000 vacant properties.
NEWS
By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun | December 12, 2013
Officials with Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's administration say they won't immediately seek to recoup a $300,000 taxpayer-funded loan granted to a Pikesville family business that was raided this week in a federal cigarette-smuggling case. Health-Way Pharmacy was allegedly used to aid a black-market cigarette trade and the illegal sale of foreign drugs, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday. Its owners received the loan in 2010 from a county fund meant to revitalize downtown Pikesville.
NEWS
By Jamie Smith Hopkins and Scott Calvert, The Baltimore Sun | August 23, 2011
Baltimore officials moved Tuesday to take back undeserved tax breaks from owners of vacant properties who are profiting from a program intended for primary residences. The effort followed a Baltimore Sun report that the owners of 465 empty homes - cited by the city as unsafe or uninhabitable - had their city property tax bills reduced by a total of $325,000, thanks to homestead property tax credits meant for owner-occupiers. Challengers to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in the Democratic primary next month were quick to pounce on what they described as a symptom of insufficient oversight.
NEWS
By John Fritze and John Fritze,Sun reporter | May 14, 2008
Baltimore officials will have broad power to sell city-owned property and acquire new lots under a bill signed into law yesterday by Gov. Martin O'Malley intended to address the city's vast collection of vacant property. The land bank, a long-standing priority for Mayor Sheila Dixon's administration, will speed the sale and, Baltimore officials hope, the redevelopment of thousands of vacant properties by clearing hurdles the city typically faces with land sales. "We need something that's going to do something in a more massive, aggressive way to streamline the process," Dixon said after the bill was signed in Annapolis.
NEWS
By J. Howard Henderson | June 16, 2008
As affordable-housing advocates await Baltimore's appointment and first meeting of the Land Bank Task Force this month, we have concerns about the creation of the proposed Land Bank Authority as authorized by recent state legislation. While we welcome the city's efforts to address vacancies, its land bank plan, released in October 2007, called for several steps to take place before the creation of an authority would even be considered. An authority would bypass traditional checks and balances to which other city agencies and programs are accountable.
NEWS
By Melody Simmons and Melody Simmons,Staff Writer | September 10, 1993
A nonprofit legal services agency has been awarded a $627,500 grant to begin a push by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to rehabilitate or demolish nearly 700 vacant properties in West Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.The work by the Community Law Center kicks off a pledge made by Mr. Schmoke in March that every vacant and boarded house in the Sandtown-Winchester area will be either renovated or demolished within one year.The Board of Estimates awarded the grant earlier this week. The city Department of Housing and Community Development will use the money to place 350 properties in receivership and for title work on 250 properties the city wants to acquire.
NEWS
By Eric Siegel and Eric Siegel,Staff Writer | May 13, 1993
Baltimore's auction of vacant and abandoned houses yesterday drew hundreds of people who packed a meeting room at the Convention Center pursuing dreams of property ownership -- or profit.The bidders included potential homebuyers looking for their first bargain-basement houses, prospective entrepreneurs hoping to turn a quick buck and seasoned real estate executives trying to expand their holdings.There were so many bidders that only about a quarter of the 1,500 available properties were auctioned yesterday.
NEWS
August 22, 2013
Baltimore's leaders are to be commended for their efforts to steadily reduce crime, improve student test scores and graduation rates, and lower property taxes. Such steps are absolutely critical to meeting Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's goal of reversing Baltimore's decades-long decline and drawing 10,000 new families to the city over a 10-year period. Yet even if all those worthy goals are achieved, no outsider - or resident - will think of Baltimore as a truly great metropolis (let alone the "Greatest City on Earth," as those bus benches proclaim)
NEWS
By Paul T. Graziano | November 11, 2013
In East Baltimore, the 1200 block of North Broadway was once almost entirely vacant. Now a woman who moved to the city from Parkville has made it her family's home. There were once 25 vacants on this block; only six remain, all of which are under construction. Farther south, a man whose home has been in his family for three generations has seen a transformation on the 200 block of North Madeira Street. Eleven long-vacant properties have been sold or auctioned to developers, the street and sidewalks have been repaved, and a stream of new neighbors is moving in. Around the corner, a longtime resident began renovating homes on Mullikin Street, building on the momentum of Madeira Street's revitalization.
NEWS
By Matthew D. Gallagher | October 6, 2013
Baltimore is on the cusp of making once unimaginable progress in modernizing its obsolete public school facilities with more than $1 billion in investment over the next 10 years. Broad coalitions of supporters, feasible financing plans and the adoption of needed accountability systems, along with the alignment of civic and elected leadership sustained through the legislative process, helped achieve this potentially game-changing outcome. Such a hard-won victory illustrates what is possible and should galvanize our community to act on another of the city's biggest challenges: Baltimore's 16,000 vacant properties.
NEWS
August 22, 2013
Baltimore's leaders are to be commended for their efforts to steadily reduce crime, improve student test scores and graduation rates, and lower property taxes. Such steps are absolutely critical to meeting Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's goal of reversing Baltimore's decades-long decline and drawing 10,000 new families to the city over a 10-year period. Yet even if all those worthy goals are achieved, no outsider - or resident - will think of Baltimore as a truly great metropolis (let alone the "Greatest City on Earth," as those bus benches proclaim)
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | April 30, 2013
Six Baltimore community groups filed an $8 million lawsuit Tuesday against a Texas man whose companies own dozens of properties in the city, alleging that he failed to improve rundown homes after purchasing them at tax sales and allowed them to become a danger. "The lawsuit challenges the practice of purchasing vacant properties at tax sale and leaving them for dead with unaddressed city code violations," said Kristine Dunkerton, executive director of the Community Law Center Inc., a nonprofit based in Baltimore that represents the community associations.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and The Baltimore Sun | February 20, 2013
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has received a $1 million grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, of Owings Mills, that will go toward building and rehabbing homes in Baltimore. “We are proud to receive support from the Weinberg Foundation to assist the financially disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals and families in our homeownership program,” said Habitat Chesapeake CEO Mike Posko. The grant will go toward rehabilitating 56 vacant properties over two years, Posko said in a statement.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and The Baltimore Sun | December 12, 2012
The local branch of Habitat for Humanity has already received several properties as part of a nationwide commitment by Bank of America to donate 2,000 vacant homes to the affordable housing organization. “These donations can make a dramatic difference for so many Habitat affiliates, increasing their suitable property inventory,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, in a statement this week. Habitat's outposts across the U.S. are receiving the homes from Bank of America on a case-by-case basis, as they become available.
NEWS
By Eric Siegel and Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF | August 26, 2003
Seeking to realize Reservoir Hill's potential to become a premier residential neighborhood, city officials announced yesterday plans to offer about 300 vacant properties in the North Baltimore community for redevelopment to individuals and developers. The plans involve nearly 100 vacant rowhouses and parcels owned by the city and its public housing agency that are in the neighborhood between Druid Hill Park and Bolton Hill, and about twice that many being acquired by the city through the Project 5000 initiative, which takes control of abandoned properties.
NEWS
By Eric Siegel and Gady A. Epstein and Eric Siegel and Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF | January 27, 2002
Saying that "we need to take a substantial bite out of blight" in Baltimore neighborhoods, Mayor Martin O'Malley is launching an initiative to take control of thousands of abandoned houses throughout the city within the next two years. As many as 5,000 vacant properties will be targeted for acquisition through foreclosure or condemnation - more than 10 times the number of houses the city seized last year, and more than a third of the houses the city has identified as uninhabitable. The acquisitions would include entire blocks, some of which would eventually be cleared and offered to private companies for residential and commercial redevelopment or designed as attractive open space.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and The Baltimore Sun | November 27, 2012
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Tuesday announced an expansion of her signature urban revitalization program, Vacants to Value. The Baltimore Housing Department has set a goal of tearing down 1,500 vacant properties and renovating another 1,500 in the 36-month period that begins in January, Rawlings-Blake said. The Clinton Global Initiative designated the ambitious plan as one of its “Commitments to Action,” the mayor said at an event marking the two-year anniversary of Vacants to Value.
NEWS
July 15, 2012
Baltimore's effort to recover millions of dollars in lost revenue stemming from the wave of home foreclosures that followed the collapse of the housing market in 2007 was vindicated Thursday when Wells Fargo Bank, the nation's largest mortgage lender, agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle claims that it discriminated against African-American and Hispanic borrowers by steering them into high-cost, subprime mortgage loans. Baltimore will receive $7.5 million, and seven other communities - Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington - will benefit as well The Justice Department, which announced the agreement, said it is the second largest fair-lending settlement in its history.
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