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10-5-12: The Lines Between Us: Dealing with Blight
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One of the lines that separate people in this region is blight. There's no sharper example of it than the thousands of vacant homes that are clustered around the city. Some people only pass through the areas filled with vacants; others deal every day with the problems vacants create.
The city estimates the number of vacants at about 16,000; other organizations say the number is much higher.
Vacants are prevalent in the Greenmount West and Barclay neighborhoods in east Baltimore, above North Avenue. Resident Myeisha Hall says there’s one vacant on her block that’s just been infested by pigeons. “They make bowel movements all over the porch. There’s feathers flying in our face all day. They’re just infested up in there.”
We wanted to find out: how did there get to be so many vacant properties in Baltimore? Why are some neighborhoods more affected than others? And how do vacants relate to inequality in the region?
Sheilah talks with Eric Siegel, who’s an instructor at Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Policy Studies. In his 30 years at the Baltimore Sun, he covered housing and development in Baltimore City. He’s also joined on the line by Mel Freeman, Executive Director of the Baltimore-based Citizens Planning and Housing Association.
The Lines Between Us is made possible by grants from Associated Black Charities, Cohen Opportunity Fund, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation, and Open Society Institute-Baltimore, as well as support from members of the WYPR Board of Directors.
Here, you can listen to the full conversation Sheilah had with Eric and Mel -- it went much longer than we had time for on air, but it's absolutely worth a listen.