Baltimore stakeholders continue to push for solutions to the high number of vacant and boarded-up houses that dot the city. The latest effort, "Baltimore Builds Expo: Restoring value to Baltimore’s vacant property," is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 9.
Admission is free, but guests must register by calling 410-396-4111. Check out the website for information.
The event will be held at the Westside Skills Center, 501 North Athol Avenue in Baltimore’s Allendale neighborhood. It features exhibit booths and seminars, such as ones that teach how to purchase a city-owned property and how to rehabilitate a house. Participates can also tour some of the renovated and “ready-for-rehab” properties.
City leaders have experimented with initiative after initiative to get a handle on the blight – the latest evolution of which is called Vacants to Value.
The city had 16,000 abandoned buildings as of late last year. The Sun’s Scott Calvert chronicled the persistent problems at one property at 825 N. Caroline St., where a 13-year-old girl was raped last October. He found that the city secured more than 5,000 vacant houses, but often the boards are pulled off and the properties become a den for crime.
That article was one of many the Sun has written over the years about the issue that the city has tried time after time to resolve.
In 1992, city leadership offered 30-year loans on vacant homes as part of an $8 million program run by the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corp.
Around the same time, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies found that more than 27,000 vacant homes filled city streets with 60 percent having been abandoned for more than two years.
In response, then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke warned the negligent owners that they needed to fix the properties or the city would tear them down.
The problem, of course, is not unique to Baltimore. Population in cities around America are constantly fluctuating, which leads to highs and lows in supply and demand.
The report shows a dramatic range in city population shifts. Baltimore’s population shrunk by 4.6 percent from 2000 to 2010. Nearby, Washington’s population grew by 5.2 percent, Philadelphia’s jumped by less than a percent and New York was up 2.1 percent.
Here is an example of the dramatic differences in population loss and gains: Between 2000 and 2010, Orlando’s grew by 28.2 percent while Cleveland lost 17.1 percent of its residents.