Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods. Strong, healthy homes are the building blocks of our neighborhoods. In our homes, we plan our future, tuck our kids in at night; home is where we come each and every day, it is our shelter against the challenges of the world. Home is where we rest, where we recharge, where we get ready for each new day.
But for too many Baltimoreans, home is not yet as healthy and strong as it can be. Our neighborhoods can be spaces where people come together to build communities that allow for the strengths of each member to grow.
Create Neighborhoods of Opportunity
Together we can:
- Break up concentrated poverty by expanding the use of housing choice vouchers and providing residential counseling and support to enable moves to neighborhoods of opportunity — neighborhoods with great schools and low poverty rates — across the region (for example see theBaltimore Regional Housing Partnership)
- Use once in-a-lifetime investments in schools (the 21st Century School Plan), housing demolition, and neighborhood reinvestment to rebuild mixed-income city communities where all children and families can thrive.
- Bring together those working on comprehensive community change efforts in distinct neighborhoods — like the Southwest Baltimore Partnership, Promise Heights, Park Heights Renaissance, and the Neighborhood Transformation Zone in East Baltimore — to create a powerful cross-city network, share effective strategies and lessons learned, and inform city, state and federal-level policy on neighborhoods.
- Strengthen support for community planning and community organizing in these and other neighborhoods to ensure every neighborhood has a master plan for its future development and growth.
- In conjunction with the Sustainable City recommendations (below), ensure every neighborhood has green space for community gathering, recreation and play.
Expand Affordable Housing and Home-Ownership
- Expand homeownership assistance, including “live near your work” programs.
- Enable low-income residents to pay lower down payments for homes, which has proven to increase homeownership and help residents build significant wealth. (North Carolina Community Advantage Program)
- Create a Rent-to-Own home ownership program to create opportunities for wealth creation and revitalization of city-owned and/or abandoned properties in hardest-hit communities.
Demand Accountability and Increase Investments
1. Work with housing advocates, surrounding counties and state leaders to increase the region’s participation/share in providing affordable housing and de-concentrating poverty and respond to HUD’s mandate that all communities create meaningful plans to address segregation and inequality by Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.
2. Assess implementation of Baltimore’s Inclusionary Housing Law to ensure that as development continues throughout the city, new investment results in mixed income housing developments.
3. Work to secure additional Federal HUD funding including Choice Neighborhoods to implement housing programs and comprehensive community revitalization.
4. Aggressively work to eliminate housing discrimination and segregation, including through providing additional resources to the Baltimore Community Relations Commission to enforce the City’s Fair Housing Ordinance.
5. Move immediately to replace leadership of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and address management issues that include: 1) The backlog of maintenance and repair requests of city public housing. 2) The waitlist for subsidized housing and housing choice vouchers. 3) The disposition of city owned vacant properties (see Vacants to Values recommendations, below).
6. Assess the current implementation of Vacants to Values, and commit to strengthening the effort by:
- Identifying financing partnerships with a range of public (city, state and federal, and private institutions and lenders to encourage more home rehabilitations;
- Make most effective use of new investment capital announced by the State of Maryland for blight- elimination efforts in Baltimore;
- Develop a plan to encourage reinvestment and redevelopment in distressed areas outside of the current scope of Vacants to Value;
- Create an independent council to advocate for citywide policy changes relating to vacant buildings and provide independent oversight of Vacants to Value.
7. Reform Baltimore City’s Rent Court to better protect families from unfairly and/or unnecessarily evicted from their homes by:
- Establishing funding for tenant legal services at Rent Court to help families defend themselves from the potential threat of eviction and homelessness.
- Advocating for state legislation to require landlords to wait 14 days after demanding payment of rent before they can le an eviction case and require landlords to present essential documentation when making these demands (i.e. the lease, accounting statement, rental license and lead risk reduction certi cate) to encourage resolution of rent disputes before resort to the Rent Court.
Baltimore Welcomes New Americans
- Join other cities in refusing to participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) that relies on the participation of local law enforcement to identify residents for deportation. (Example: Philadelphia)
- Ban Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents (ICE agents) from city-owned properties and institutions — and especially schools — except for when there are overriding public safety concerns. (Examples New York and Los Angeles)
- Work with partners across the state to ensure access to the Maryland State Identification Card for city residents without valid accompanying United States Citizenship and Immigration Services documentation (see: MD New Process to Get Driver’s License or ID Card).
All Baltimore residents have a place to call home
Together we can:
- Develop new permanent housing units and use the Housing First approach to target these units to the most vulnerable individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
- Ensure existing permanent supportive housing units are targeted, in part, to house chronically homeless individuals and veterans.
- Repurpose some of the current transitional housing stock to create new permanent housing opportunities for individuals, families and homeless youth.
- Strengthen collaboration between Baltimore City Public Schools and homeless service providers to ensure homeless children and unaccompanied youth have access to schools and other educational resources.
- Partner with advocates to increase Medicare enrollment initiatives, behavioral health service delivery, and coordinated discharge options, using the City’s Point-In-Time count as a baseline for scaling.
- Partner with advocates to increase access to skill development opportunities and job placement services for homeless individuals and veterans.
- Partner with advocates to ensure that staff at homeless shelters and residential units are trained in inclusive and culturally competent treatment services, specifically with regard to the LGBT population.
Authorized by Citizens for DeRay McKesson — Nakeia Drummond, Treasurer