'Pops'

Ralph "Pops" Gatheright, seated in front, chats with neighbors in the 1600 block of North Bethel Street. (Amy Davis / / Baltimore Sun / September 24, 2013)

A day after beginning demolition of three vacant blocks in East Baltimore, city housing officials say they will work with the residents of the only inhabited home to potentially allow them to stay.

The housing department had said it planned to knock down the homes on the 1600 block of N. Bethel St. as part of a demolition that began Tuesday with adjacent Lansing Avenue. The effort is part of a broader revitalization plan for the area.

Ralph Gatheright, 74, lives in the only house not boarded up on Lansing or his stretch of Bethel, and said he was not aware of the city's intention for his home. Housing Department spokeswoman Cheron Porter said city officials were wrong when they said Tuesday that efforts to relocate Gatheright were underway.

"Based on the events and conversations of yesterday we will reach out to him to discuss options that will best suit his family's needs," she said in a statement Wednesday. "We will begin acquisition and relocation should that be what he wants, but if not we will demo the remainder of the block and build a wall to secure his property."