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Baltimore mayor orders agencies to review activities linked to vacants

BALTIMORE — A week after three firefighters were killed when a vacant row house partially collapsed, Baltimore’s mayor announced Monday that he’s directing all city agencies to review all activities linked to vacant houses.

Mayor Brandon Scott announced that agencies have 30 days to provide City Administrator Chris Shorter with an accounting of efforts to reduce the number of vacant properties and provide ideas for intensifying these efforts, according to a news release. After the review, Scott will announce goals to cut the number of vacant homes.

“This is a top priority of my Administration,” Scott said in a statement. “Anything less than our very best attempt at solving the problem would be a discredit to the lives of the brave firefighters we lost last week and the residents we serve day in and day out.”

About third of the city’s more than 15,000 vacant houses are being rehabbed, part of a redevelopment plan, in court under a receivership action, being prepared for demolition or available for sale, officials said. The Department of Housing and Community Development is on track to file nearly 500 receivership cases this fiscal year and the directive aims to to boost that number, officials said.