I figured that the 1000th post should be something a little nicer than a photo of a run-down vacant owned by a slumlord, so…what to write about?

A random slumlord-owned vacant, also the "cover model" for last year's holiday card.
A random slumlord-owned vacant, also the “cover model” for last year’s holiday card.

How about all the “successes” we’ve had over the past five years?  Or how about a “worst slumlord in Baltimore” post?  Ehh…how about all of the above, coupled with some folks we’re eternally grateful to for their support over the years?  Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

A few success stories:

  • We’ve heard from five residents since June of this year who were living in conditions that I wouldn’t allow my worst enemy to live in.  No heat (or intermittent heat), bad wiring, roaches, rats, mold, water leaks — you name it, they’ve experienced it.  I am very happy to say that all five residents are now living in better conditions, and their previous residences were either condemned or the owners were forced to make repairs (and fined!)  We’re still working with two residents who are trying to get their landlords to fix their slum properties — stay tuned…
  • Many of the homes that have been featured on this blog have either gone through the receivership process or are going through it now — my guess is about 50, give or take.  This means they’ll either be fixed up by their current owners, or the city will take them and sell them.  While I’m not 100% sold on the idea of the Vacants to Value program — it’s a start, and with better vetting of potential buyers and tighter monitoring, it has the potential to be a good thing for Baltimore.
  • We’ve brought national attention to a problem that was long ignored by our local government — attention, I believe, that has sparked more efforts on the part of said government to clean up our city.  We still have a long way to go, but this is a start — and since we’re not going anywhere, the attention won’t go away.  Our marginalized neighborhoods deserve better!
  • Working with community groups on their vacant issues, and trash issues — it’s an ongoing process, but small victories pop up from time to time.  I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em.

So…who really is the worst slumlord?

Some might say “The City”, some might say Stanley Rochkind…John Reiff…Scott Wizig…  My feeling is that it’s all of the above, plus a few we haven’t found yet.  Baltimore is chockablock full of slumlord-owned housing.  Some with tenants, but most are vacant and causing untold grief to the surrounding community members.  What’s interesting about our slumlords — they truly come from all walks of life.  Rich, poor, white, black…Christian, Jew, Muslim…politicians, police officers, teachers…conservative, liberal…there’s no one group that stands out as being “the worst” — which goes to show that evil really does come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

And a big thank you…

Some of you might be reading the blog for the first time (thanks!) and some may have been around since the beginning.  But…I do want to take the opportunity to thank you, in no particular order:

  • Reader Rusty, S, and Bill
  • Pete from Highlandtown
  • Dennis T C, Evan, Casey, and Elaine from CTB
  • Shammy
  • Shannon F
  • Tanya L
  • Sheila Kast
  • Laura A
  • Mike B
  • Corey S
  • Robert G
  • Robert BE
  • Salvatore S
  • NPR
  • WEAA
  • Marc Steiner
  • Rob C
  • Robert W
  • Ron C and the folks at Baltimore Magazine
  • Julia, Tarek, and Nether
  • Linda R
  • Sebastian and Brooke
  • Mair
  • Fern and Baltimore Brew
  • Edward E, Baynard W, and the City Paper
  • Jamie SH
  • Christina B
  • Rob S & BNI
  • Matt H & PJC
  • Paul G
  • Beth H
  • David W & Olga M
  • Lois J
  • Andrew Z
  • Andrew H
  • Anyone else named Andrew
  • Claire from Detroit
  • Columbus, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta folks who started their own slumlord-watch groups
  • Voice of Russia
  • WJZ
  • The folks at Shelterforce
  • Jeff P from the CBS Evening News
  • Katherine from The Atlantic Monthly
  • Atlantic Cities
  • WYPR
  • Edweena
  • Beth H
  • Bill C
  • Ed R
  • The folks at Bohemian Coffeehouse
  • Brian B
  • Fred R
  • Ryan D
  • Tommy F
  • Travis
  • My two children, M and M, who put up with their mother’s obsession with vacants
  • the Baltimore Sun
  • …and probably a million other people I’m leaving off accidentally — thank you!