With American Rescue Plan Funds, Baltimore Leaders Can Confront The City's Racial Wealth Gap
In East and West Baltimore, you'll find blocks and blocks of vacant and abandoned houses, thousands altogether. I want to sell these properties for one dollar not to developers but to our city's legacy residents — the people who have been holding up our neighborhoods in the face of disproportional disinvestment, and the resulting crime, grime and blight.
Using a substantial investment from the $641 million Baltimore will receive under the American Rescue Plan, we stand a real chance at confronting the city's staggering racial wealth gap, closing the gulf between rates of white and Black homeownership, and stemming the tide of displacement that's contributed to Baltimore's further population decline.
Black Baltimoreans lost their chance at accumulating generational wealth across families and decades as a result of some of the country's most pronounced racism. In the birthplace of America's first racial zoning law, home equity in Black communities was suffocated by redlining, and white flight produced the hypersegregated neighborhoods and abject poverty that exist currently.
Today, less than half of families who live in Baltimore own their homes. And the rate is even lower for Black families — in a city that's 60% Black. Foreclosures and evictions create more turmoil. 10,000 Black families in our city are forced out of their homes every year by banks and landlords.
Good public policy is what will begin to eradicate the conditions that create health and economic disparities. We don't need a miracle to improve conditions in our great but segregated city. We need the city's legislative branch to put progressive ideals into action.
The American Rescue Plan gives us the best shot we've had to responsibly grow Baltimore. We know Baltimore is at risk of gentrifying — rapidly. We've got mountains to our west, the ocean to the east and the nation's Capital and the Big Apple both just a train ride away. There was a reason Donald Trump disparaged Baltimore at every opportunity. It was a dog whistle intended to drive down real estate values, so investors could scoop up cheap properties and sell them at profits.
Please take a moment to read the remainder of my op-ed published in Blavity explaining why we must take advantage of this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change lives in Baltimore for generations to come.
Also, join me and the Committee of the Whole on Monday, December 20th, at 5 p.m. for a Work Session on the #HouseBaltimore legislative package that includes the reverse home mortgage bill for seniors facing foreclosure, home repair grants bill to help our residents stay in their homes when they are facing emergencies and the Dollar Homes bill that, if passed, will provide homes for as little as $1 from the city's stock of vacants, tax credits to cover renovation costs and $10,000 grants toward down payments and closing fees.
We have created an FAQ about the Dollar Homes to answer any questions you may have.
I encourage you to tune in and sign up to testify, or email your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can hear your thoughts on the legislation.
Again, the Work Session will take place on Monday, December 20th at 5 p.m. You can watch live via WebEx and Charm TV.
I look forward to working with you to make Baltimore the city we know it has all of the potential to be.
Baltimore, I love you!
Nick J. Mosby
City Council President
Deputy Director of Communications
Office of City Council President Nick J. Mosby