Photo of the US Capitol

2017 Federal Legislation to Watch

H.R.614 – To require each owner of a dwelling unit assisted under the section 8 rental assistance voucher program to remain current with respect to local property and school taxes and to authorize a public housing agency to use such rental assistance amounts to pay such tax debt of such an owner, and for other Read more about 2017 Federal Legislation to Watch[…]

Justice for Neighbors in Southwest Baltimore

In the course of speaking to community groups, the issue of nuisance properties comes up a lot. Sometimes the complaints are fairly minor — trash, noise, etc., and sometimes the complaints turn into a story of a community being terrorized by the residents of one property, one with an owner or landlord who does nothing Read more about Justice for Neighbors in Southwest Baltimore[…]

Putting Out the Affordable Housing Fire

The Problem Baltimore’s current affordable housing crisis is yet another fire our government has to put out — despite it smoldering for years, turning into a full blaze right around the same time as the housing bubble and subsequent “bust”, leaving thousands in foreclosure and unable to afford steadily rising rents. Many cities are faced Read more about Putting Out the Affordable Housing Fire[…]

Behind on Your Property Taxes or Water Bill? Don’t Lose Your Home!

It’s that unfortunate time of year again when we have to start thinking about the city’s tax sale and the people who could potentially lose their homes because of an unpaid tax or other municipal lien. The Pro Bono Resource Center is again hosting a series of tax-sale workshops for homeowners who need information about Read more about Behind on Your Property Taxes or Water Bill? Don’t Lose Your Home![…]

Why Policy Matters

Public Policy. It shapes everything we do and dictates what we shouldn’t do. Sometimes it acts in place of common sense, which I find both troubling and puzzling. It can make us stronger, but it can also destroy us. But what is it, really, and how do we go about striking a balance between what Read more about Why Policy Matters[…]

Don’t Lose Your Home to the City’s Tax Sale!

One of the smartest things you can do when you’re in a jam is to reach out and seek help. For those of you who are in danger of losing your home to the annual tax sale, here’s an opportunity to get your questions answered! MVLS and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland are Read more about Don’t Lose Your Home to the City’s Tax Sale![…]

Are You Past Due on Your Property Taxes or Water Bill?

Don’t let your home go to auction — there is legal help available! The Pro-Bono Resource Center of Maryland, along with MVLS, is holding three community workshops where lawyers will discuss both foreclosure and tax sales. If you’re behind on your water bill or property tax, don’t wait until it’s too late — find out Read more about Are You Past Due on Your Property Taxes or Water Bill?[…]

Support City Council Bill 13-0293

Introduced in the Baltimore City Council by Councilman Henry (District 4), this bill would expand the definition of vacant houses, giving Baltimore Housing the ability to levy fines against blighted nuisance properties faster, and impose harsher penalties against owners who did not comply. (Source: WBAL) Many of our vacant structures are owned by absentee landlords, Read more about Support City Council Bill 13-0293[…]

Maryland lead program opens registration for rental properties built before 1978

Currently, Maryland law requires rental properties built before 1950 to be registered with the Maryland Department of the Environment, and comply with risk reduction standards.  As of January 2015, all rental properties built before 1978 will now have to be registered. This change in the law has the potential to greatly reduce the number of Read more about Maryland lead program opens registration for rental properties built before 1978[…]

New Maryland Law: Smoke Alarms

Thanks to the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association for the reminder: As of July 1, 2013, homeowners with battery-powered smoke alarms must update to long-life sealed-in battery smoke alarms. This law applies to homes with alarms more than 10 years old. Additionally, homes will be required to install smoke alarms in all sleeping Read more about New Maryland Law: Smoke Alarms[…]

Another Tool to Fight Against Blight

From the Community Law Center: Owners of abandoned properties in Baltimore City should start bringing their properties up to code, or the local community association might sue them to do just that. Today, the revised law known as the Community Bill of Rights, goes into effect. This amended legislation makes it easier for community organizations Read more about Another Tool to Fight Against Blight[…]

Link Roundup

It will be interesting to see how much money is earned on the auction of Baltimore Housing Authority property.  Glad to see someone is fighting to make the agency pay its lead paint settlements. It’s always fun to read posts or letters in the Baltimore Sun from bad property owners who feel the laws and Read more about Link Roundup[…]

Everyone Has One…

Just like the crazy uncle everyone shuns at family gatherings…every neighborhood has “that house”.  The one with people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, the one where all the police activity seems to happen — you know the one I’m talking about — it’s the Community Nuisance. Did you know Read more about Everyone Has One…[…]

Legislative Wins and Losses

Better late than never — here are the bills we were watching in the 2011 legislative session, and what happened after all was said and done: SB 503:  Foreclosure Purchaser and Tenant – Evictions – Tenant’s Right to Reclaim Personal Property:  FAILED HB 179/SB 111:  Environment – Recycling – Apartment Buildings and Condominiums – FAILED Read more about Legislative Wins and Losses[…]

News and Link Roundup

I came across this link from photographer Kevin Bauman and wanted to share it with our readers — 100 Abandoned Houses.  More art than advocacy, he manages to capture the downtrodden soul of these structures.  We’re also quite fond of Abandoned America. Detroit mayor Dave Bing has promised to demolish 3,000 vacant structures before the Read more about News and Link Roundup[…]

Tenants’ Rights and Foreclosure

Did you know that as a tenant, you have rights when your home is being foreclosed on, regardless of your income level? From the National Low Income Housing Coalition: On May 20, 2009, the President signed into a law a bill containing provisions protecting tenants living in foreclosed buildings. (The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act Read more about Tenants’ Rights and Foreclosure[…]

Learning From Cleveland

Many cities across the country have taken broad steps to combat the problems vacant homes can cause — none, however, have been as creative as Cleveland, Ohio.  Cleveland is comparable to Baltimore when you look at the percentage of abandoned properties — before and after the foreclosure crisis. We wondered how Cleveland was dealing with Read more about Learning From Cleveland[…]