Tagged: WBAL

House Collapse in West Baltimore

According to Oscar Jiminez from WBAL, a vacant house partially collapsed in the 1900 block of Edmondson Avenue this morning injuring two people and also sent debris into the sidewalk and onto the road. Thankfully nobody was killed, unlike this incident in March.

The house, 1925 Edmondson Avenue, was owned by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, and is part of the Vacants to Value program, touted by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as an “innovative” program that was supposed to “to get Baltimore’s vacant and abandoned properties cleaned up and redeveloped more quickly, more efficiently, and more economically”.

1923 Edmondson Avenue, on the right. Note the absence of a roof.
1921 and 1923 Edmondson Avenue. Note the absence of a roof on 1923. Both homes are City-owned. (Image from Google Street View)

While V2V may have seemed like a good idea, we maintain the program is not operating as intended, as many of the purchasers of V2V homes are speculators. In fact, one of the largest purchasers of V2V homes is someone we’ve written about several times — an attorney who was disbarred (and subsequently reinstated) for bid-rigging at Baltimore’s municipal auctions, both under his own name and his LLC, “Land Research Associates”.

 

HABC and Accountability?

If you haven’t already watched this video that appeared on WBAL’s website recently, you should.  (But not while eating.  You’ll thank me for the warning later.)  In the video, reporter David Collins walks around a rental home owned by Steven McFadgen, a Virginia attorney.  McFadgen had rented the home to a low-income tenant under HUD’s Section 8 program — a program that is administered locally in Baltimore by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), headed by Paul Graziano.

Interesting to note — the tenant, while receiving Section 8 benefits — is also a Section 8 housing inspector, employed by HABC.  In other words — it’s her job to make sure landlords who participate in the Section 8 rental program are maintaining their homes in a safe and healthy manner.  And she’s also employed by the city’s housing authority — apparently at a salary rate that qualifies her for federal housing benefits.

Listing for Shauntae R Jones, HABC Inspector, in the Baltimore municipal phone directory.
Listing for Shauntae Jones, HABC Inspector, in the Baltimore municipal phone directory.

I won’t go into detail about the video — it’s nauseating (hence my warning about not eating while watching) — but I will tell you that the words “feces, roaches, and trash” are mentioned.

If this is how this woman and her family live — perhaps she isn’t qualified to inspect properties.  I’ve heard stories from landlords about their homes being trashed — this is the first time I’ve seen photos/video of something this awful. And the refusal of HABC to take action against its employee is mind-boggling.  With so many in Baltimore who are out of work — surely they could find someone more qualified for this position than Ms. Jones.

This story is more about Ms. Jones and the way she apparently lives — it’s about HABC and yet again, it’s just another example of the utter lack of accountability within the organization. Hopefully some day we’ll have a mayor and city council that understand our city — even its poorest residents — need and deserve better leadership for all of our city agencies, but especially at HABC.