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Some affected by suit prefer not to leave city Most say they're glad to get out of high-rises


Carolyn Mason has never had any desire to live in the suburbs. Her parents were raised in the city; so were her grandparents.

She's raised two children while living in the Flag House Courts public housing development in East Baltimore and envisioned someday moving to an apartment building near Druid Hill Park.

But yesterday she learned that she was among 1,342 city families in high-rise public housing who will be relocated to either Baltimore County or areas of the city that do not have a high concentration of low-income families.

The move is part of a settlement between the city, federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union in which low-income families would be scattered throughout the area.

"It's a matter of soon having to leave the only place I've ever wanted to live," Ms. Mason said as she stood in front of the high-rise building at 127 S. Exeter St.

"I never wanted to live here long, but I also never wanted to move from the city. I can't imagine it."

Other public housing buildings scheduled for demolition include Lexington Terrace, the George B. Murphy Homes and Fairfield Homes.

Lafayette Courts was demolished in August.

Reaction to the prospect of moving from city high-rise public housing to low-rise housing was mixed yesterday among public housing residents.

Although most saw the move as a chance to live in better housing, some hated to leave the community -- and possibly the city -- they called home.

At Murphy Homes in West Baltimore, Sherron Johnson, 35, said she was unaware that her building was scheduled for demolition, but would be ready for relocation in "a heartbeat."

"When I moved in about a year ago, I knew I wasn't going to stay forever," she said.

"Actually, the least time there the better. My bags could be packed by tomorrow. I'm ready."

Because of crime at Murphy Homes, she seldom leaves the apartment she shares with her sister in the 1058 Argyle Ave. building. She often hears gunshots at night and dodges drug dealers when she comes home from work.

"This is definitely the wrong place for me. This is and has always been the last resort," she said. "I see the best thing being for this place is to bring it down."

At Lexington Terrace, less than a mile from Murphy Homes, many residents said they had prepared to move when they learned last month that the high-rise building would be demolished.

For Jojo Cooper, who has lived there for less than a year, a move anywhere won't be difficult.

"The county is fine with me. Cheaper car insurance. Better schools. Less gunfights. Please, I'm ready to go," he said.

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