July 25, 2013
By Celeste Amato, ABAG President
Two weeks ago we were honored to host Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for a conversation about her plans for Growing Baltimore through the Vacants to Value initiative.
Baltimore’s 16,000 vacant and abandoned building are often viewed as a problem – but they are also an opportunity. Cleaning up and redeveloping these properties eliminates blight, increases property values, creates community amenities and attracts new residents and businesses.
Vacants to Value strategically implements demolition to stabilize and encourage reinvestment and is a key component of Grow Baltimore.
These are the six strategies at the heart of Vacants to Value:
- Streamline the Disposition of City-Owned Properties
- Streamline Code Enforcement in Stronger Markets
- Facilitate Investment in Emerging Markets
- Target Home-buying Incentives
- Support Large-Scale Redevelopment in Distressed Areas
- Demolish and Maintain Severely Distressed Blocks – Green Opportunities
The Mayor was joined by staff from the Departments of Housing and Planning who shared in detail how these strategies will be implemented and utilized to strengthen and grow communities, as well outlining opportunities for collaboration. The Mayor also discussed – a soon-to-be-announced -- expanded set of homeownership incentives that will build on investments to revitalize neighborhoods.
We appreciated the Mayor’s acknowledgement of foundation community support for Vacants to Value, and in particular, she highlighted the partnership with Beth Harber of the Abell Foundation and Scot Spencer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation on the Green and Healthy Homes Network; the million dollar fund managed by the Baltimore Community Foundation from the Constellation Energy Group to fund the LIGHT Program (Leading Innovation for a Green and Healthy Tomorrow); and the collaborative support of weatherization efforts across the city by the Casey Foundation, Abell Foundation and the Zanvyl Krieger Fund.
ABAG members had an opportunity for dialogue and questions, and we are very appreciative of the time spent discussing this important effort.
Conversations like this are part of our ongoing effort tobroaden and strengthen our reach and our impact and specifically, to increase ourcivic engagement – with consistent and persistent outreach to our elected officials and policy leaders - to ensure that they know the issues that are important to us and know that our philanthropic community is an essential, valuable and willing partner in local and regional public policy development, implementation and success.
We look forward to continuing the conversation, lending our expertise and support to a productive partnership with Mayor Rawlings-Blake and her administrative team.
Learn more about Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s Vacants to Value initiative