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Mayor Rawlings-Blake Kicks Off The Vacants To Value Summit

Participants learn first hand about the Mayor’s plan and vision for addressing blight in the City

Mayor emphasizes available tax credits programs that reduce property tax for vacant homes by as much as 60% over a five year period

On February 10, 2011, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano, community members and business leaders for the “Vacants to Value” Summit. Mayor Rawlings-Blake launched her “Vacants to Value” initiative in November 2010 to reduce vacant housing and urban blight in Baltimore. Participants learned directly from Baltimore Housing officials how the plan would be implemented, how they could take part in the initiative and offered suggestions for addressing blight in their communities.

“Vacants to Value is my plan to address one of this city’s most pressing and stubborn challenges,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “As Mayor, it’s my job to make sure the City Government is doing everything it can to spur growth and reinvestment in Baltimore, by continuing the progress we’ve made creating better schools, safer streets and stronger neighborhoods.”

As a result of one of the largest percentage declines in population among major U.S. cities from 1950 to 2000, Baltimore is now challenged with approximately 16,000 vacant buildings, roughly 25% of which are city-owned. Baltimore Housing estimates that more than 5,700 of the vacant structures are in areas with existing or emerging development demand.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake outlined a detailed 6-point strategy to reduce blight. The plan will spur growth and reinvestment by streamlining the sale of vacant city property, strengthening code enforcement efforts in transitional blocks and emerging markets to promote rehabilitation. It also provided new, targeted incentives for homebuyers and developers who invest in vacant homes, including a new $5000 forgivable loan program for City Police, Firefighters, and Teachers that purchase or rehabilitate vacant homes.

At the Summit, Mayor Rawlings-Blake emphasized tax credit programs for qualifying individuals who purchase vacant homes, saving the homeowners up to 60% off their property tax bill over five years. To learn more about the Vacant Dwelling Property and Newly Constructed Property Tax Credits, visit http://baltimorecity.gov/Government/AgenciesDepartments/Finance/TaxCredits.aspx

The conference was originally scheduled to take place at Coppin State University, but because of the overwhelming response, planners moved the event to the Baltimore Convention Center. “I’m excited about today’s turnout. The response has been extraordinary and overwhelming,” added Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

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Take a look at presentations from the Vacants to Value Summit