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Baltimore's vacant home crisis: Committee plans on obtaining billions to combat issue

Baltimore's vacant home crisis: Committee plans on obtaining billions to combat issue
Baltimore's vacant home crisis: Committee plans on obtaining billions to combat issue 02:27

BALTIMORE - A new initiative will bring together Baltimore leaders and faith organizations to help combat the city's vacant home crisis.

WJZ has been covering this issue extensively for years.

The announcement of the partnership was made Sunday in a packed church in East Baltimore.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is partnering with organizations to build a steering committee together with a goal to get $7.5 billion to invest in vacant properties in Baltimore.

Currently, there are more than 14,000 vacant homes in Baltimore.

The crisis hit a major breaking point in January of 2022 when three city firefighters died while battling a fire at a vacant row home on Stricker Street. 

"Baltimore, It's time. In fact, it's past time for us to come together to tackle this issue," Mayor Scott said.

Mayor Scott joined The Greater Baltimore Committee, a non-profit focused on improving the region's business climate, and BUILD, an inter-faith development group.

Together, they pledged to work together to reduce the number of vacant homes in Baltimore City.

"One person can't do it. One entity can't do it. One organization can't do it" said Pastor Brent Brown, from BUILD, which stands for Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development. "One politician can't do it. It's going to take community."

BUILD conducted a study that found it will take a $7.5 billion investment to solve the problem, with $5 billion of that coming from private investors.  

Brown said having the faith community a part of this effort is key to getting the job done.

"The power of the church encompasses community," Brown said. "It encompasses people from all walks of life that are affected in some way, shape, or form by this issue of vacant homes."

Now that this new partnership has been formed, the group's next step is to come up with an implementation plan and get lawmakers on board during the next legislative session.

A real estate broker who attended Sunday's announcement said addressing the vacant home crisis will open many doors for everyone in Baltimore.

"It will allow us as real estate professionals an opportunity to get in front of individuals and show them the best that Baltimore has to offer," said Hope Mims, from Mims Realty Group.

The group hopes to have their implementation plan complete by this Fall.

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