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Hogan, Rawlings-Blake announce Baltimore blight elimination program

Adam Bednar//Daily Record Business Writer//January 5, 2016

Hogan, Rawlings-Blake announce Baltimore blight elimination program

By Adam Bednar

//Daily Record Business Writer

//January 5, 2016

Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Tuesday announced a new partnership aimed at eliminating blocks of blighted vacant housing in Baltimore.

The partnership is being called Project C.O.R.E., which stands for Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise, and it will be a four-year partnership using $75 million in state funding. Officials hope to clear an estimated 20 blocks of blighted properties in the project’s first year. Overall, with economic development funds to come later, nearly $700 million would be devoted to the endeavor.

“Fixing what is broken in Baltimore requires that we address the sea of abandoned, dilapidated buildings infecting entire neighborhoods,” Hogan said in a news release. “Together, we will transform these neighborhoods from centers for crime and drugs, to places our city, and our entire state, can be proud of. Working with the private sector to invest in projects like affordable housing, retail and other new businesses will help ensure that Baltimore becomes a better place to live, work, and retire.”

Following demolition, empty lots will be converted to green space and eventually assessed for possible redevelopment. The state plans to encourage redevelopment of the sites through incentives for private developers to build projects that support economic growth in the city.

The first block set for demolition through the partnership will be in the 1000 block of N. Stricker St. in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, near where Freddie Gray lived. His death from injuries in police custody has galvanized community interest in improving neighborhoods and bringing economic development to that area.

In addition to the state funds, the city will be responsible for in-kind administrative services, which will be the equivalent of $1 from the city for every $4 from the state. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development will provide $600 million in financing opportunities, including $150 million in fiscal year 2016, according to the state.

Baltimore, which has lost about 30 percent of its population in the last 50 years, has struggled with vacant and blighted properties. The empty, boarded-up homes often become drug dens, are dangerous to residents because of neglect and have become symbols of disinvestment in many city communities.

During Rawlings-Blake’s tenure, her administration has emphasized addressing vacant blighted properties, primarily through the Vacants to Value program. In November, the Abell Foundation released a report calling that program the most ambitious in city history in terms of addressing blight, but also finding serious flaws.

“The governor’s commitment of new state dollars will enable us to accelerate the progress we have made through our nationally recognized Vacants to Value program and deliver new opportunities to more neighborhoods. Under my Vacants to Value program, I quadrupled Baltimore City funding for demolition to $10 million per year, and I welcome this significant new commitment from Governor Hogan,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement following the new program’s announcement.



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