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Baltimore City Demolishes 600th Vacant Home In Last 2 Years

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore City announced it will spend $9 million it received in a mortgage scam settlement to demolish more vacant homes.

Mike Schuh saw some of the eyesores tumble.

Ask those who live here what's holding down the Oliver neighborhood and the list includes rats, dope fiends and vacant homes.

"Some people who are homeless, they go in there and live," said Michelle Whitfield.

In a city with 16,000 vacants, nearly every block has a vacant house.  West Lanvale has five in a row.

But people in the Oliver community are singing the praises of new construction equipment and signs on their street.

"Blighted houses have been in our community for so long, and it's glad to see them finally come down," said Whitfield.

Crews demolished the 600th vacant home in the past two years Monday, and the mayor is thrilled.

"What we are saying is that there's new investment coming. There is a brighter day for your community," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

She also credits the City Council for passing a tough, new $900 fine to get owners to improve or sell their properties.

"It encourages property owners to fix the property, sell the property or raze the property," said Carl Stokes, city councilman.

That fine means more reinvestment, so the city doesn't have to tear down homes that could be rehabbed.

Once leveled, there's no redevelopment plan yet in place for this property, but to neighbors just getting them removed is good enough for now.

"We're going to put something back. We're not going to just...take it over," said Dee Sparks.

There are 230 vacants that have been sold and are now being rehabbed.

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