Dec 12, 2011
The rape of a young girl shone a bitter light on the disaster that is vacant housing in Baltimore. She was dragged into one of the thousands of empty houses in east Baltimore, then fell to the basement where her attacker beat her in the face and ribs.
The Department of Public Works, trying to squirm out of its responsibility, claimed it had boarded up more than 5,200 houses this past year and in each of the past several years. Maybe so – but the total of abandoned and vacant buildings in Baltimore City is more than 16,000 – by the city’s own admission and probably worse.
Here is work that needs to be done in a city where the unemployed need work. The Baltimore waiting list for low-income housing is closed because so many people are already on it and so few houses or apartments are available. And an estimated 4,000 people are homeless every night. Here is a desperate need that the city does not begin to meet.
Houses are vacant and could be rehabbed or pulled down with new housing going up. And thousands of unemployed construction workers could be put back to work.
Instead, housing has been pulled down in one place – the blocks and blocks of east Baltimore where the people were pushed out so that Johns Hopkins Hospital could expand. In other places, like in this impoverished east Baltimore neighborhood, the vacant houses worsen the already desperate situation for people living there.
Capitalism, with all the wealth in the world, has no answers for the problems of the population.