Housing Questionnaire Candidate Response: Luke Clippinger

Luke Clippinger (D, incumbent) is running for State Delegate, District 46.

Baltimore City has 30,000+ vacant homes. Do you have additional ideas for cleaning up the blight that isn’t a rehash or continuation of previous plans? And how do you propose to pay for your plan?

In 1974, my family purchased a house for $1 in Reservoir Hill as part of then-Mayor Schaefer’s Homesteading Program. I was raised in that home and went to Baltimore City Public Schools. I literally lived in and through one of the previous programs established to clean up blight in Baltimore. We were one of the homes sold as part of a “scattered site” Homesteading program – where the Dollar Houses in other neighborhoods made up a large part of the neighborhood’s housing stock, we were one of four or five homes in the neighborhood sold as part of the program. Reservoir Hill has seen significant improvements recently, but it would be difficult to call the scattered site Homesteading program a success in Reservoir Hill.

As I look back at my family’s experience as Homesteaders in Baltimore City, I also see where the Homesteading program was successful. Homesteaders in neighborhoods such as Otterbein and Federal Hill were successful in no small part because of the long-term commitment of the City and State to promote commercial and business
development near those initial homesteading areas. It wasn’t the Homesteading program alone. As a member of the Legislature, I have supported efforts to eliminate blight in Baltimore. I have supported additional funding through the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative (BRNI) and Project CORE to support projects that would eliminate blight in neighborhoods across the City. I will continue to call on the Governor to release the full amount of funding for BRNI and to accelerate Project CORE’s work in Baltimore. I will also call on the Governor to fully fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and ensure that those funds are dedicated to developing affordable and safe rental housing for people of low and moderate incomes.

Again, it’s not one thing. It’s on-going, long-term support of home-ownership programs, of affordable and safe rental properties, and aggressive City code enforcement of problem properties. After my 16 years, and my families 31 years in Reservoir Hill, I can testify that there are people who are ready to make Baltimore’s most challenging neighborhoods their home. They need the comprehensive support to make it work.

The two fastest-growing income groups in Baltimore are those who earn $75,000 and up, and those who earn $25,000 and below. Middle-income families, who earn approximately $41,000, are struggling to afford rental housing. How do you propose to keep median-income renters from leaving the city without pushing them into homeownership they may not want or be able to afford?

I have been learning more about Community Land Trusts, and, along with the rest of the 46th District delegation, have supported the efforts of the Westport Community Economic Development Corporation to get funding for their CLT through the State’s Capital Budget. Further, I will support efforts in Curtis Bay to get funding for their CLT through the BRNI program. Community Land Trusts own the land for development and provide an innovative way to create more affordable housing in our neighborhoods.

Along with Delegates Lierman and Lewis, I also support the “Kushner Act” to bar arrests for anyone behind in rent less than $5,000. I have supported efforts in the past to require LLCs to have local contacts who are available to respond to housing code violations and other problems with housing owned by an LLC.

How do you plan to address lead paint poisoning in our city, a problem that has a disparate impact on low-income Black families?

The legislature is presently considering HB 304, legislation sponsored by Delegate Robbyn Lewis, that would lower the threshold at which lead-risk reduction requirements are triggered. By lowering the threshold, we will be able to intervene sooner, enforce laws more effectively, and, over time, lower the number of people exposed to lead paint.

Is there anything else voters should know about your approach to affordable and safe housing?

I supported HB464 in the Baltimore City Delegation, which provides a $2,500 tax credit to low-income City employees. I also believe that Live Where You Work programs have had some success in parts of the City.

I will continue to seek further ways to improve the neighborhoods of the 46th District, while using my families experience in the Homesteading program, in part, to inform my deliberations as we consider relevant Housing legislation in Annapolis.