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Housing chief steps up drive to repair, raze vacant houses

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Hoping to lower the city's stock of more than 40,000 vacant properties, Baltimore's housing commissioner said yesterday that he will step up efforts to combat the problem with a new plan.

Daniel P. Henson III, who serves as the head of Housing and Community Development and the Housing Authority, assembled more than 60 housing developers, city department leaders, community leaders and other housing specialists to draw up the plan.

Some initiatives have already begun, Henson said.

He said that two state's attorney slots have been created and filled to handle issues in housing court. Three already exist.

He said the city will no longer spend large amounts to rehabilitate one or two vacant houses in a block without having a plan for the whole area. A comprehensive study of a block might signal that it would be cheaper to demolish all the houses and use the land for other functions, such as parks, gardens or sites for development.

Henson also instructed department representatives to begin implementing housing initiatives and programs that are intended to lead to redevelopment of abandoned properties. Some of those include loan programs, tax sales and publicizing tax breaks for rehabilitating properties.

Henson said that as abandoned properties are fixed or demolished, surrounding properties would become more valuable, and the repairs might spur development.

Pub Date: 12/11/97

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