*Across Baltimore, city residents are unhappy with how the local government and its subcommittees have handled low-income housing in the most poverty-stricken communities.
“The Housing Authority, from my perspective, have no commitment to poor people in Baltimore,” said Jeff Singer, housing advocate and professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. “I think the Commissioner has demonstrated that over and over and over. They have had a $150 million surplus that they haven’t spent on maintaining the buildings.”
In Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods, many homeowners and renters can’t even get good repair contractors to address their home’s needs, whether it’s a flooded basement, black mold, broken windows, or a leaky roof. Residents are especially vulnerable during the winter. Roofs more than 20 years old are much more likely to fail in the face of even light snow accumulation, wind, or ice.
According to City Paper, many of these residents are both elderly and disabled. Yet they are still fighting for the basic right to fair housing, repairs, and safety.
“They sell drugs in here. They kill people in here. They stab people in here. They rape people in here. They try your doorknob at night to see whether or not you left your door open so they can come in and rob you and beat you up,” said Michelle Owens, a 72-year-old wheelchair bound woman who’s been living in the J. Van Story Branch Senior Apartments for seven years. “They do a lot of things in here.”
The Baltimore Sun reports that city residents are hopeful that Sen. Catherine Pugh, the Democratic nominee for mayor, will fix the city’s long history of housing neglect, which includes vacancy issues, the lack of repair services offered to poor communities, and fair housing for all.
“She knows the neighborhoods of Baltimore intimately,” said County Executive Jim Smith. “She has a vision to bring those neighborhoods back.”