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Vacants to Value Furthers Revitalization in Oliver

First blight elimination effort to use $10 million nationwide mortgage settlement funds

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano joined community leaders and residents in the Oliver community to demolish six vacant properties in the 1600 block of Lansing Avenue. The blighted structures are the first to be demolished since Baltimore Housing received Board of Estimates' approval of $10 million from the Mortgage Servicers Settlement funds.

"Today's demolition is yet another victory for Oliver residents," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "With the funds from the settlement, we are making a down payment on our commitment to remove blight, strengthen our neighborhoods, and bring 10,000 families to the City."

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, along with 48 other Attorneys General, entered into a settlement with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers following an extensive investigation into foreclosure abuses, fraud, and unacceptable mortgage servicing practices such as "robo-signing." The settlement provides monetary benefits to distressed Maryland borrowers, imposes standards for the banks' mortgage servicing processes, and provides funds to the State of Maryland for housing-related services and activities.

Demolition is a key component of Vacants to Value, Baltimore Housing has targeted approximately 500 blighted structures to be demolished with these funds. Due to the rowhouse nature of our city's housing stock, often one or two remaining occupants are found on an otherwise vacant block. Baltimore Housing will be working these households to relocate in accordance with the Federal Uniform Relocation Act. $9.25 million from the settlement funds will be used to demolish vacant, blighted and/or abandoned housing and relocate owners and tenants, when necessary. The City intends to direct the remaining $750,000 to the Vacants to Value Homebuyer's Assistance program for the purchase of previously vacant but now rehabbed properties.

Through Vacants to Value, more than $8 million have been invested in construction projects and more than 100 vacant structures have been rehabbed or demolished in Oliver.

"We want communities to know that by working together we can help make them safer and stronger " said Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano. "Vacants to Value is the greatest tool we have for removing blight and encouraging investment in this great city."

Launched in November 2010, Mayor Rawlings-Blake's Vacants to Value initiative seeks to encourage reinvestment in neighborhoods impacted by blighted properties by strengthening code enforcement, promoting rehabilitation, streamlining the sale of vacant city property, and by providing new, targeted incentives for homebuyers and developers who invest in vacant properties.

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