Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared on Tuesday that Baltimore’s abandoned buildings will be demolished to make space for parks and green areas which might attract investors and developers of new projects.
According to Hogan the abandoned buildings infecting whole neighborhoods is one of the city’s deepest problems. The governor continued saying that these dilapidated buildings are not only unpleasant to see but they are also unhealthy and unsafe being “a hotbed for crime”.
One of the first buildings to be demolished is going to be a block in Sandtown-Winchester, where Freddie Gray grew up – the young men killed by the police last spring, whose death started national protests against the police’s use of violence against black young men.
However people from the neighborhood are not totally agreeing with Hogan’s plans of bringing development projects and recreational spaces saying that the razed buildings should be replaced with affordable houses. Brooks Brown, 58, says that the neighborhood doesn’t need more parks but more houses to take homeless people off the streets.
According to official estimations there are around 16,000 abandoned houses in Baltimore after a third of Baltimore’s populations left the city since the 1950s.
Hogan will spend about $75 million during the next four years to tear down the abandoned buildings and build up parks and green space. The city of Baltimore will chip in with some extra $19 million. Besides that the state will make available $600 million to finance private developers who might want to start projects in these neighborhoods.
The press conference in which Hogan has announced the demolition plans was followed by a live demonstration of a house being demolished by an excavator as Hogan accompanied by other officials watched from a safety distance.
However, Brown says he’s full of lies coming from politicians and private developers who promised too many times that they will do something good for Sandtown. Now the man is convinced that nothing good will ever be done to really help the residents.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake says that during her administration more than 2,600 buildings have been rehabilitated and around 2,000 have been demolished but money coming from the state will make possible even more improvements.
According to experts Baltimore’s stock of vacant buildings remained high despite the numerous demolitions because people are abandoning their houses at a faster rate than the buildings get to be demolished.
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