Baltimore's "Vacants to Value" Plan to Reduce Blight

December 7, 2010
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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Baltimore Housing Commission Paul Graziano to announce a new integrated effort to reduce vacant housing and urban blight in Baltimore. As a result of one of the largest percentage declines in population among major U.S. cities from 1950 to 2000, Baltimore is now challenged with approximately 16,000 vacant buildings, roughly 25 percent of which are city-owned. Baltimore Housing estimates that more than 5,700 of the vacant structures are in areas with existing or emerging development demand.

The mayor outlined a detailed six-point strategy to reduce blight, which is projected to cut the transactional time of selling city property, increase the number of vacant properties sold, and commence rehabilitation of more than 1,000 vacant buildings within the first year of the program.

Among the new reforms unveiled by Rawlings-Blake are: a new uniform appraisal policy; a new sale by live auction process; consolidation of property inventory into one agency; and an expedited lien abatement process. Taken together, the policy reforms are expected to reduce transactional time by at least two-thirds.

“Markets and investors need and deserve more transparency and predictability with these transactions,” said the mayor. “With these new policies in place, they will have it. “This strategy alone will increase the number of city properties marketed and ready for purchase, and ultimately increase the number of city properties sold.”