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After The Veto Of The Renters' Bill, What Options For Rental Housing?

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Rental units at the Woodrow Apartments on E. 30th Street in Baltimore (Wikimedia-Creative Commons)

Last week, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott vetoed a controversial bill that would have allowed renters a couple of alternatives to paying lump-sum security deposits. One alternative, supported by most housing advocates, would have allowed renters to pay the security deposits in installments. Another provision of the bill would have allowed renters to purchase “surety bonds” that would place liability in the hands of a company who would in turn be able to bill renters directly. This provision is the one that prompted the Mayoral veto and staunch opposition to the bill from a large coalition of housing and social justice advocates.

If the veto is sustained, what options would be better for renters and landlords? If security deposits are as barrier to finding quality housing, how can that barrier be overcome?

Today on Midday, Tom talks about this issue with two lawmakers, a housing advocate and a reporter, and we’ll take your calls and comments. We invited the sponsor of the bill, Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton, who said she could not appear due to a scheduling conflict, as well as officials with the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, which represents landlords. They declined to appear as well.

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Cohen photo by Bill Woolf.
Councilman Zeke Cohen; renters advocate Tisha Guthrie; Councilman John Bullock; BaltimoreBrew editor Fern Shen.

We begin with Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen. He represents the first district. He and Councilman Ryan Dorsey voted against the legislation, which passed the Council by a margin of 12-2, with one abstention.

Then we hear the perspective of Tisha Guthrie, a housing advocate who was part of the coalition of groups opposed to the bill that Mayor Scott vetoed. Guthrie is the treasurer of the Bolton House Residents Association, a building that overlooks the State Center complex in midtown. Tisha Guthrie is also part of Baltimore Renters United, the group that coordinated the public opposition to the bill that passed in the City Council 12-2, with the firm support of both the President and Vice President of the City Council, Nick Mosby and Sharon Green Middleton.

Next, Tom turns to another member of the Baltimore City Council, John Bullock, who represents the 9th District.

And in our final segment, Tom talks with Fern Shen, the founder and editor of the Baltimore Brew. She’s been covering this story closely.

WYPR’s housing reporter Sarah Y. Kim has also been following this story, and you can find her coverage here.

All our guests today join us on Zoom.

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is Midday's senior producer.