Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is requiring all city agencies to report on their efforts to reduce the number of vacant properties across the city, reports Emily Opilo for The Baltimore Sun. The mandate, which was announced on Monday, comes after the recent death of three Baltimore firefighters battling a blaze inside of a vacant rowhome.
Mayor Scott gave each agency 30 days to provide a full report.
How bad is the vacancy problem?
As of last week, there were 15,032 vacant houses across the city, reports The Baltimore Sun. Of them, 13,560 have private owners, and about one-third are undergoing “some kind of transformation” such as rehabilitation and preparation for demolition.
The vacant homes present issues for first responders, while also being a “persistent problem in depopulating Baltimore,” according to The Sun.
Anything else I should know?
Mayor Scott wants to accelerate an initiative led by City Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy to acquire and convert, stabilize, or demolish empty homes. The mayor also hopes that the agency reports can make way for more collaboration among government departments in addressing this issue.
Meanwhile, Fire Chief Niles Ford is researching ways to better address safety hazards for firefighters’ response to emergencies at vacant properties.
You can read more here.