Baltimore City is faced with two broad housing-related issues that at first blush seem contradictory: the staggering amount of vacant homes and the lack of access to stable, affordable housing. In 2007, to address the affordability issue, I introduced the City’s first inclusionary housing ordinance to help spur construction of affordable housing units across the City. I have championed efforts to implement deconstruction techniques to address our City’s vacant houses, working with non-profits that train and employ Baltimore city residents, often ex-offenders, to deconstruct – rather than simply demolish – Baltimore’s vacant houses. This approach is a win-win: it addresses our city’s glut of vacant buildings, and provides good jobs, with tangible skills to City residents.
Working with the Council I have taken the first steps toward convening an affordable housing task force, which will strengthen Baltimore’s inclusionary housing law, making sure developers work with the City to address our need for more affordable housing. I will make sure the task force completes its work, and will introduce new, stronger inclusionary housing legislation. I will also work to expand the use of deconstruction programs, so that we can simultaneously address the glut of vacant homes while training and providing jobs to some of our hardest-to-employ neighbors. We also need to explore less-common ways to generate stable, affordable housing. With that in mind, I will work to build up community-centric models of development, such as Community Land Trusts and Community Development Corporations.