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Letter to the Editor – 12/19/13

The recent story (“EBDI gets $2.5M to raze houses,” Dec. 12) confirms yet again the unmonitored use of our tax dollars freely distributed to powerful corporations resulting in greater wealth and health disparity-taxation without representation.

While the report tells us of plans for construction of market-rate housing, we still await the plans for construction of one-third low-income housing mandated in legislation for this eminent domain-driven gentrification project.

Core to the use of eminent domain to take private land for private use is the requirement for a comprehensive plan showing equitable benefit for the existing community. The lack of low-income housing, jobs for the local community, equal access to educational opportunity, and security for existing residents ignore a federal court decision requiring a comprehensive plan showing benefit to community as well as local legislation requiring benefit to community. Such a comprehensive plan would be one informed by all affected stakeholders, not only the powerful and majority white stakeholders represented by the Johns Hopkins Institutions, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the city and state government and its proxy development entity EBDI.

A comprehensive plan rooted in a “planning to stay” intention and process for those residing in the community has been missing throughout the first 10 years of this project. The continued blessing by the local, state and federal government through grants and subsidies support a public-private partnership fueling dispossession of historic African American and low-income residents from participating in a plan which details how they can stay in their community during and after a rebuilding process.

It is time for city officials to perform their elected responsibilities to the public and require the powerful stakeholders provide: evidence as to how equitable benefit to the local community is occurring through access to housing, jobs, education, recreation, health, transportation and security; plans ensuring how local participation can inhibit the current path of inequity and gentrification.

Marisela B. Gomez

Baltimore

Mindy T. Fullilove

Orange, N.J.

The authors are community activists and public health professionals. Gomez is the author of “Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore: Rebuilding Abandoned Communities in America.” Fullilove is the author of “Root Shock: How Tearing Up Cities Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It” and “Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted Out Cities.”

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