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Baltimore’s private approach to public housing isn’t working | READER COMMENTARY

New construction is underway on the former site of Perkins Homes, 1940s era temporary homes in East Baltimore that became public housing units. Nov. 17, 2022. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun).

A recent edition of The Baltimore Sun showed the indifference and failure of the Baltimore City Council to face the housing crisis that so many people in our city confront. The council is debating a marginal improvement (“Baltimore’s inclusionary housing law has created only 37 affordable units in 15 years. City Council wants changes,” Nov. 20) —nafter 37 affordable units have been mandated in 15 years. The new proposal would slightly increase the requirements, while lavishing a 15% tax break on private developers. This generosity is in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars doled out to developers as tax increment financing (TIF) bonds and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) in exchange for contribution to the campaign funds of council members.

In the same issue, we see the destruction of public housing projects (“‘It’s a heavy lift’: How Baltimore will transform 244 acres of former public housing projects”) and the proposal that private developers (the same group that created 37 affordable units in 15 years) can build 500 “deeply affordable” units.

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Why doesn’t the City Council just take all of this money and build new and wonderful public housing units, taking out the profit that has hurt so many of our residents and has helped to create a huge population loss for the city? The term “public” — as in public housing, public schools, public transportation — should not be considered a dirty word.

— Bill Barry, Baltimore

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