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Baltimore green initiative receives $500,000 boost

Baltimore’s program aimed at turning vacant trashed strewn lots into viable community green spaces has received a $500,000 boost.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Friday, which was Earth Day, the Growing Green Initiative would receive a funding boost to help stabilize and improve spaces in communities such as Sandtown Winchester, Penn North and Broadway East.

“This additional funding shows my commitment to transform vacant lots into assets for communities most affected by vacancy and supports multiple goals of my administration including blight elimination and stabilizing and strengthening neighborhoods,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Support for the Growing Green Initiative comes from the city’s blight elimination funds, which the program receives about 5 percent annually. The funds that were announced on Friday come from supplemental appropriations that have been submitted to the City Council.

During the current “growing season” the city intends to green at least 200 vacant lots. That process includes fencing, cleaning of brush and tree planting.

Addressing the city’s multitude of vacant housing has been a major goal during the Rawlings-Blake administration, which launched the Vacants to Value program to eliminate blighted property. The city and state also announced this year they will be launching a $75 million partnership called Project C.O.R.E., or Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise aimed at addressing blight in Baltimore.

The Growing Green Initiative, which is an independent program, is part of the strategy of addressing vacant properties by making sure that property that cannot be immediately redeveloped is not left to become a trash infested area further marring a community.

The Growing Green Initiative has worked with partners to create a variety of programs to increase community investment and maintenance in these greening projects.

It has worked with the Parks & People Foundation to create the Care A Lot program that provides non-governmental organizations, community development corps. and neighborhood associations with stipends to maintain lots.

The same organizations have also partnered to create the Neighborhood Greening Grants program which provides bi-annual grant to community groups for community-led greening projects.

Last year the initiative and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts launched Lots Alive to support the creation of temporary art projects on vacant lots.

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.

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