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Baltimore's Vacants: Tallying the true costs of derelict housing

Boarded windows at a vacant rowhouse in the 2400 block of E. Lafayette Avenue in Baltimore. (photo via Wikimedia Creative Commons)

The ongoing water contamination problem in West Baltimore will likely prove to be a rare, acute problem. But Baltimore is not without its chronic problems, too. One of them is the challenge of vacant and abandoned housing.

Our city has the third highest rate of vacant and abandoned properties in the country. This is according to a new report from the Johns Hopkins 21st Century Cities Initiative, which has compiled data from sources that include research done by the University of Baltimore’s Neighborhood Indicator’s Alliance and Open Baltimore, the city government’s repository of data.

The report seeks to better understand the “measurable” costs to the city of carrying a large inventory of houses that do almost nothing to add to the city’s tax base, but do, do a lot to add to crime and bad health outcomes for the people living in those neighborhoods that are rife with blight.

The new report is called The Costs of Baltimore’s Vacant Housing.  Tom's first guests today are its co-authors, Mary Miller and Mac McComas, who join us today in Studio A.

Mary Miller is a senior fellow at the 21st Century Cities Initiative. After a long career at T. Rowe Price, she served as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance in the U.S. Treasury Department during the Obama Administration. In 2020, she placed third in a crowded field of candidates in the Democratic primary for Mayor…

Mac McComas is the Senior Program Manager at the 21st Century Cities Initiative, and co-author of the book, Unlocking the Potential of Post-Industrial Cities.

(Full disclosure: Mary Miller and Tom Hall have been friends for 30 years. Mac McComas is also a friend, and a member of the WYPR Board of Directors.)

Later in the hour, Tom speaks with Hallie Miller of our partner news organization, The Baltimore Banner. She covers housing and city services for the Banner, and she joins Tom in Studio A.

You're welcome to join us as well with your questions and comments: call 410.662.8780 email: [email protected]. Tweet us: @MiddayWYPR.

(L-R) Mary Miller, senior fellow; James Mac McComas, senior program manager at Hopkins' 21st Century Cities Initiative; Hallie Miller, Baltimore Banner's housing and city services reporter. (photo credits Hopkins/BaltimoreBanner)
(L-R) At Hopkins' 21st Century Cities Initiative: Mary Miller, senior fellow; James 'Mac' McComas, senior program manager; Hallie Miller, The Baltimore Banner's housing and city services reporter. (photo credits Hopkins/BaltimoreBanner)

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