District 6 City Council Candidate Sharon Green-Middleton on Housing

Since the incumbent, Councilwoman Sharon Green-Middleton, is the only District 6 candidate who responded to the questionnaire, there’s no need for a separate page with links to candidate responses. The candidates who did not respond are as follows:  Mark Hughes, Timothy Mercer, Richard Thomas White, Jr.

Councilwoman Green-Middleton’s responses are below, with no edits:

1. Baltimore City has 30,000+ vacant homes. How do you intend to clean up blight in your district that isn’t a rehash or continuation of previous plans? And how do you propose to pay for your plan?

I’m a firm believer of, that one of the best ways to help eliminate blight is with the help of residents in the community. My District 6 office and I, utilize City Services to assist community leaders in planning and implementing neighborhood clean-ups, walk-throughs, and reporting absentee landlords whose properties adversely affect the surrounding properties. I plan to vigorously go after owners of nuisance properties that wreak havoc on the community and disrupt the quality of life of residents.

2. The two fastest-growing income groups in Baltimore are those who earn $75,000 and up, and those who earn $25,000 and below. The middle class in Baltimore is stagnating, and 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?

We must continue to work toward housing that is AFFORTABLE, if we plan on keeping residents in Baltimore City. We cannot address the housing issue in a vacuum; especially if there are not living wage jobs available to pay their rent. Homeownership is not for everyone; many residents are fine with renting. However, I do think that the best way to keep renters from leaving the city is to ensure that our neighborhoods are clean, safe, and that our schools/job training centers become quality anchor institutions in the community.

3. Our Housing Authority has a decades-long reputation for corruption and incompetence at its top leadership tier. How do you plan to address this?

My goal is to address housing issues at the grass roots level with the help of community stakeholders. While Baltimore Housing leadership has come under recent criticism, I still have to represent my constituents by continuing to address housing issues within the district. Regardless of leadership of any city agency, my number one duty is to build relationships to ensure the needs of constiuients are met. My goal is simple; get the job done; especially focusing on the district I represent.

4. It’s been said that Baltimore’s tax sale process is burdensome to seniors and low-income residents, forcing many out of their homes. How do you plan to make this process easier for those who are struggling to pay for their water bills and property taxes, and how would you better structure the city’s tax sale process to ensure homes aren’t purchased and subsequently neglected?

I think the City needs to make sure that better and more efficient outreach efforts, in terms of notification is provided to City residents. I plan to continue my outreach efforts to educate the community on access to information/resources. Individual Housing counseling efforts are needed for seniors/families who are at risk of losing their homes in tax sale. Many individuals are scared or embarrassed to reach out for help.

5. If you plan to introduce a reduction in property taxes, please indicate that, but also indicate how you plan to make up for the lost revenue.

As a Councilmember, I plan to build a partnership and work with the Mayor & Administration on their initiatives/plans on property taxes reduction. Helping constiuients in trouble, to find ways of maintaining their home will help to keep revenue in the City. Also, I will continue working with constiuients to take advantage of the Homeowners Tax Credit and other offered programs.

6. How do you propose enforcing Baltimore City’s inclusionary housing law?

As a supporter of inclusionary housing, there clearly needs to be discussion/hearings/work sessions on ways of strengthening enforcement and communication with the Advisory Board. Also, exploring best practices from other cities that has successful implementation of the law. I will work to be a part of these efforts.

7. Is there anything else voters should know about your approach to housing in District 6?

In District 6, I have been and continue to build partnerships and work with the City and Agencies, and State/Federal contacts on ongoing issues. Supplying resources and communicating with community leaders, associations, residents, community development organizations, etc. are a must. Several completed housing projects in District 6 during this term include: The Dorothy J. Rental Apartment Complex on Liberty Heights Ave.; The Pangea Oaks Rental Apartments on W. Garrison Blvd. with special focus on servicing Veterans and Handicap Accessibility; Rennisiance Gardens Apartments for Seniors Only on Pimlico Ave. and Wayland Village I Senior Apartments on W. Garrison. Plans are on the way for a Wayland Village II. Some of the properties mentioned were problem properties for many years in various communities and have become success stories. To ensure that Baltimore City residents have access to affordable permanent, beautiful, healthy, and safe places to live, we must continue to provide a framework within every District, and communities. Stronger code enforcement in every agency, (especially with absentee land owners) expand financing access with small developers, and the federal and state governments must continue to provide bonds, resources, and education for help with demolition, improved Vacant to Value program outreach and receivership methods. Its been a slow, but effective process in Park Heights. Continuing to develop additional support systems for properties and investigating how to best implement the use of the community land trust program for affordable housing and create jobs are important next steps as we move forward in Park Heights.

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