The Glover Report: Pro-Active Approach to Arresting Baltimore’s Vacant Structure Dilemma Necessary

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By Doni Glover, Publisher
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(BALTIMORE – January 25, 2022) – First and foremost, our prayers go to the families and friends of our beloved Baltimore City Fire Department brothers and sister who heroically died in yesterday’s fire.

With that said, this news outlet has repeatedly covered the issue of vacant houses. For years. And the truth of the matter is, other than the Governor’s Project CORE – there is very little if anything being done by the City of Baltimore to change this trajectory.

This includes a rotation of Baltimore City resources from the Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore Fire Department, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Department of Public Works. On any given day, one of these five departments will come across an issue with a vacant house. Yesterday, we saw the worst possible scenario where fire takes life, but was it also a by-product of a lack of cooperation amongst city agencies?

Did I mention Homeless Services? Were they aware of this property?

How many calls were made about this vacant property on Stricker Street? What did they know, when did they know it, and what did they do about it? Was there a fire in this very same dwelling 7 years ago? Was this property vacant for 11 years? Who is responsible for citing such a property?

Does this help build the trust between the City of Baltimore and the citizenry.

The families of those lost and the citizens of Baltimore deserve to know.

Lt. Paul Butrim, Truck #23; FF. Kelsey Sadler, Engine #14; FF. Kenny Lacayo, Engine #14: How will their deaths not be in vain? What will the City of Baltimore do so that this tragedy doesn’t happen again?

Living in close proximity to a vacant house is no cakewalk, especially in an area where cocaine, heroin, and crack are sold. Vacant properties instantly become “shooting galleries” littered with people who get high. Some burn candles for light. And sometimes these candles fall over. Once the fire hits the roof, it’s ballgame! All bets are off as the fire literally bops down the street. Only an act of God can stop it.

Something must be done as the City of Baltimore is wasting resources by having to repeatedly respond to an issue with a vacant property. Seems to me, there needs to be a registry of some sort. A review of 311 calls should help provide a good look at such nuisance properties. The heads of community organizations certainly can point out these properties, too. We must identify them and secure them, or demolish them.

Whatever the case, it is time to be much more proactive about better ridding this city of all of these vacants. And, it’s everybody’s problem, including those in better neighborhoods.

Getting these addicts help is a whole other issue I won’t get into here. However, on behalf of those who died yesterday, this ought to be a clarion call that our current approach is not working. Adapt! Improvise! All hands on deck as we effectively arrest this pervasive issue of vacant properties once and for all. This includes our federal, state, and local elected officials. Stop playing! Stop kicking the can down the road! Pro-active is the only way up and out of this dilemma!