Join Us in the Struggle for Fair Development
by Ms. Jordan, Baltimore Housing Roundtable, (shown below on left) andVidushani Jayalal, SWCOS & Baltimore Housing Roundtable (below in right)
Over the past year through my field placement with United Workers, I have gotten the privilege to work with some of the most powerful and resilient individuals and communities in Baltimore. One transformative leader I have been building power with is Ms. Annette. A lifelong resident of Baltimore, she has raised three children, fought off paralysis and resisted displacement.
Ms. Annette lived on the 1200 Block of N. Gay St. for 25 years. She raised her children there, built a network of supportive neighbors, and was near all the amenities needed for her and her family to thrive. Toward the end of her time on N. Gay St., her home occupied land that the market had once ignored but now had deemed valuable. Which meant the land, her home, and the greater community would be auctioned off to the highest bidder. As a long-time renter, Ms. Annette did not have any control over how the land was going to be sold or used. She was forced to move from her home. Shortly after, Ms. Annette lived at a series of rental properties with slumlords. At one of these homes, Ms. Annette's second floor bathroom started off as a small leak but developed into a constant flow of water to her first floor. The landlord refused to fix the problem. She poignantly named this slumlord’s behavior “always patching and never fixing.” She nevertheless had to move again. She moved a total of 3 times after the initial displacement before regaining a sense of permanency in the 4X4 neighborhood where she lives now.
Ms. Annette’s story of forced movement around the city isn't unique. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to move because of choices outside of their control. Displacement does not just harm an individual, the fabric of the community is cut and tossed aside to make way for profit.
This current pattern of profit driven development has left our city crumbling and has failed many of our residents. Our city has upwards of 31,000 vacant homes, on a given night there are almost 2,600 people homeless and 53% of renters pay over a 1/3 of their income toward housing.
Together, we are asking the city of Baltimore to shift in how it invests in our communities. The 20/20 Vision for Fair Development, to use Ms. Annette words, would change Baltimore’s “always patching and never fixing” development paradigm. We are asking for an annual investment of $20 million for permanently affordable housing through community land trusts and other shared equity models; and another $20 million for deconstructing vacants, greening projects and creation of jobs with preference given to returning citizens and others with racialized barriers to employment. We are calling on our elected officials to put our neighborhoods first. Invest in us.
Join us on May 13th from 2-5pm at the War Memorial for "United Not Blighted: Baltimore's 20/20 Vision." Join hundreds of residents, over 150 organizational endorsers including SWCOS to call on Mayor Pugh and city leadership to adopt the 20/20 vision. RSVP here.