The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Baltimore Housing:
Where Can Poor People Live?

Nov 9, 2015

After a water pump broke, residents of the public housing tower Lakeview Terrace had to leave their apartments, some for a week, since they had no water and no heat.

The city has failed dismally to maintain these 11,000 units: residents have publicized fallen ceilings, roach and rodent infestation, broken electrical and water systems. A landlord who maintained such bad conditions would be fined, but the Baltimore Housing Authority is certainly not fining itself! A few residents have continued protests.

To “solve” this problem, a proposal was made by the city last year to sell 40 percent of Baltimore’s 11,000 low-income units to private developers. These developers will get grants from the federal government, pay the city millions of dollars to take ownership, and do the renovations needed. Then, supposedly, some low-income residents will have decent housing.

Even if the plan works as proposed – and nowhere else has it been tried and worked – Baltimore still lacks housing at a price many people can afford.

This past spring, Baltimore city opened a waiting list for what used to be called Section 8 housing. That voucher arrangement collects rent according to people’s income, and the government reimburses the landlord for the rest. So many people signed up to be on the waiting list that it was closed at 38,000 names! Yet one quarter of Baltimore’s residents would qualify if there were sufficient low-income housing.

Where are they supposed to live?!