A report from the Mayor’s Conversation on Vacant Homes:

“You will probably not be surprised to know that the meeting last night was a bit disappointing. The heads of all the housing-related departments were there, and gave their spiels. Paul Graziano, Michael Braverman, Jackie Cornish, etc. It was interesting for a little bit, and then became excrutiatingly not-interesting. Then the public comment section started, which was of course mostly people complaining about individual problems with individual properties, at which point we left the meeting in order to save ourselves.

They were plugging the Land Bank a lot last night, which I support in principal, but am not sure about how it applies in real life. Haven’t they already had a Land Bank in St. Louis for something like 40 years? — and I’m not sure it’s produced any impressive results. I’d have to double-check that, but I think I’ve read that somewhere. And [another person] who joined me there pointed out that everyone was talking about rehabbing houses, which is good, but no one was talking about how to create a demand to get people back into those houses. Which of course, just gives you houses that look nicer but are still vacant.”

Unfortunately, this is what we expected from the meeting, although we did hope for a little more than neighbors complaining about neighbors, and the usual contingent of rehabbers who don’t seem to understand that the boom is over.  It’s wonderful to want to rehab homes, but as the person illustrated above — unless you have people to buy them, all you have are pretty vacant homes instead of ugly ones.  That doesn’t build healthy communities, nor does it help the tax base.

We’re solidly backing the Outer Harbor Initiative to help fix the “rest” of Baltimore.