Six Baltimore community associations that settled a lawsuit against the owners of dozens of vacant city properties earlier this year will donate a portion of their settlement funds back to the Community Law Center, the pro bono legal services organization that represented them in the case along with Venable LLP.
The $22,553 donation will be used to establish Baltimore RENEW, or Residents Engaged in Neighborhood Empowerment and Well-being, a city-wide coalition that will continue to work to address the problem of vacant properties, said Kristine Dunkerton, executive director of the center.
“The goal is to be able to have all of the communities unite around the issue of vacant properties,” she said.
The funds will help the Community Law Center hire a staff member to work specifically on the Baltimore RENEW project, Dunkerton said. The group has also received support from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation and the Abell Foundation.
“We donated the funds to build on this victory with Community Law Center and its partners,” said Mark Washington of Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Community Corporation, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, in a statement. “We hope to help lead the way forward, working with communities across the city, uniting around a common vision about vacant properties that have held back our neighborhoods for far too long. We know by working together, we can change the direction of our neighborhoods from one of disinvestment and decay to reinvestment and revitalization.”
Along with the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Community Corporation, the other associations involved in the settlement donation include the Alliance of Rosemont Community Organizations, Operation ReachOut SouthWest, the Greater Greenmount Community Association, the Mount Clare Community Council and the Carrollton Ridge Community Association.