Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh publicly backed advocates’ calls Saturday for her administration to issue $40 million in bonds annually for affordable housing and deconstruction projects — a move activists say would cut down on the problems of joblessness and homelessness.
As reported by The Baltimore Sun,
About 200 people rallied at Baltimore’s War Memorial Building in favor of the Baltimore Housing Roundtable’s “20/20 Campaign,” which calls for the city to dedicate $20 million in public bonds to an affordable-housing trust fund each year and $20 million in public bonds annually to take down vacant homes and fund projects that create green space.
Pugh told the crowd she is troubled by the levels of homelessness and unemployment she sees in Baltimore.
“We cannot afford to have people living on the streets of our city,” the mayor said. “Regardless of what your status is, everybody deserves a place to live. … The vision for 20/20 is one that I support. When we lift the least, we lift all of us.”
The advocacy group United Workers formed the Baltimore Housing Roundtable in 2013 by bringing together 25 organizations to address affordable-housing issues.
In addition to the $40 million in annual bonds, the group recommends the city establish a land bank to speed up the conversion of vacant properties to affordable housing, and give priority to ex-offenders for training and employment working on such projects. It advocated a process called “decontruction,” rather than demolition of vacant properties, to provide more jobs and recycle building materials.
Several City Council members attended the rally, including Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Bill Henry, Kris Burnett, John Bullock, Shannon Sneed and Mary Pat Clarke.
Clarke said she believes there would be support on the City Council for the advocates’ proposals.
“It’s worth the investment,” she said. “We need affordable housing that stays affordable.”
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