BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore de-clutters. The city has completed demolition of blighted housing in a section of Northeast Baltimore.

Pat Warren reports a longtime resident took the first bite.

Ralph Stewart climbs into the cab to do something he’s wanted to see done for 18 years.

“When it gave me a little jolt, then it really got serious. I knew I was sitting on top a serious machine,” said Stewart.

After the first bite, the professionals took over–demolishing the last of 98 abandoned houses.

“We’re not just about pointing the fingers, we’re about solving problems and building up communities,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “And that’s what we’re here to celebrate today.”

Tivoly Avenue is among the areas hit hard by urban flight–owners abandoned their properties and those who remained lived with the decay.

“This neighborhood, this block in particular, has seen its fair share of turmoil and grief in the past. What is signaled here today hopefully is a re-emergence and a rebirth for this community,” said Mark Washington, community association director.

There are more than 16,000 blighted properties citywide.

“And I’m making neighborhood revitalization and bringing hope back to communities a priority in my administration,” the mayor said.

That’s what Ralph Stewart has been waiting for.

“People are looking for something new and getting rid of the old. It’s always a good thing,” he said.

The mayor’s Vacants to Value program is attacking the problem block by block.

The plan is to clear the site and attract a developer to build affordable housing for home ownership.

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