From the article by Yepoka Yeebo for Business Insider:
Baltimore has tried to deal with the tens of thousands of abandoned houses that mar the city. They’ve been refurbished. They’ve been raffled for $1. They’ve been demolished. But the number of vacant houses keeps growing.
There were radical efforts to seize abandoned homes and sell off city-owned property. In the nineties, $100 million was poured into some of the most troubled areas. Now the city is trying another approach: jump-starting the housing markets in healthier neighborhoods.
The numbers vary depending on who's counting, but the highest estimates suggest there are 46,800 vacant houses and lots in Baltimore — 16 percent of the city's residences. Around 16,000 actual vacant houses are registered with the city, many owned by people who just walked away, leaving the city to clean up the mess and eventually seize them in tax foreclosures.
The Housing Authority Of Baltimore is focusing its limited resources on rehabilitating almost 1,000 houses in the neighborhoods with the most viable housing markets. It will pursue and fine slumlords to force them to sell or make improvements. Where the houses are owned by the city they’ll be put up for sale, with tax breaks and small grants to encourage people to buy and developers to invest.
As for the rest of the abandoned properties, where it can afford to, the city will still be dealing with the most dangerous structures. Eventually, the plan calls for demolishing the most distressed housing, and holding onto the land until there’s scope for large-scale development.
Some experts are skeptical that the same market forces that destroyed neighborhoods in Baltimore can be trusted to salvage others. “There’s this obsession that the invisible hand of the market can cure all ills,” said city policy expert Kildee.
“Anybody who’s spent any time in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Flint, can see what the market has done to those neighborhoods. It’s destroyed them.”
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