Housing Questionnaire Candidate Response: Melissa Wells

Melissa Wells is running for State Delegate, Maryland District 40.

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?

If elected delegate, I would create an apprenticeship program that would use blighted communities as on the job training. With 30,000+ vacant homes in Baltimore City, the apprenticeship program would not only provide a stable living wage but also teach valuable trade skills in construction. Bringing these trade jobs into blighted areas will help bring new investment into underserved communities while bypassing the use of gentrification, and maintaining the culture of Baltimore. My proposal can be paid for by first, reinstating the Millionaires Tax and rolling back cuts to the Estate Tax. Secondly, I would legalize marijuana and create revenue from the sale of, while also decreasing the rates of, and spending on, incarceration.

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?

With Mayor Pugh approving only $10 million of the promised $20 million to create more affordable housing, the issue of affordable housing for middle-income earners is not to be taken lightly. My plan would first and foremost include the expansion of the Renters Tax Credit to include middle-income earners. By expanding the Renters Tax Credit, additional support for those who do not currently qualify could be obtained. Secondly, I would ensure that when all $20 million of the Baltimore Housing Roundtable’s 20/20 plan is secured, Baltimore is using the funds for rental opportunities, as well as, homeownership.

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

In order to address the lead paint issues within Baltimore City, liability must be placed on the landlords renting properties with lead-based paint. Currently, landlords are only required to make sure lead-based paint is not deteriorating or present. However, if landlords were held liable for injuries suffered due to lead-based paint, there would be a business motivated reason to ensure the safety of the rental. While not full justice – because the paint manufacturers are not held accountable – there is still a sense of justice and a viable path to financial recovery for the victims.

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

[Candidate did not provide a response.]