By Jessica Albert

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — City lawmakers are taking steps toward addressing the problems associated with Baltimore’s nearly 15,000 vacant houses.

Two city council members have proposed five new bills to try to address the dangers associated with them.

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These bills will hold accountable vacant property owners by imposing fines on them.

Vacant houses have created problems for the city for years—long before one of them collapsed under the weight of a burning fire and killed three firefighters in January.

The bills were proposed by City Council President Nick Mosby and City Councilmember Odette Ramos (District 14).

Mosby’s bills would require the owners of vacant properties to re-register their property every six months.

One bill, in particular, would implement fees for repeated calls to 311 or 911 for issues tied to a specific vacant property.

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As for Ramos’ bills, one would increase the fine for not rehabbing vacant houses from $900 to $1,000.

The other would streamline the process for the city to acquire a vacant property.

 

Ramos says that this is just the beginning of a multi-step approach that the city will take toward addressing its vacant houses.

“It’s going to take these bills but also making sure that we have the money to work with the community development organizations and neighbors to actually rehab the properties,” she said. “So it’s a huge process and lots of puzzle pieces.”

Baltimore resident Joseph Semilia said it would be nice if someone would step in, take over the dilapidated buildings, and do something with them.

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“When you look at it for real and you see it, it’s like no one really wants to live here,” he said.

Jessica Albert