District 2 Candidate Brandon Scott on Housing

Since the incumbent, Councilman Brandon Scott, is the only District 2 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:  Gregory Yarberough, Melissa Bagley, and Tony Christian.

Councilman Scott’s answers appear 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?

We have code enforcements in place, and even ones to help target problem landlords and properties – but we need to increase capacity and frequency of enforcement. Additionally, these consistent fines targeting nuisance homes and owners can be used to continue to support the fight against blight. Coupling increased enforcement with education would help with cleaning up blight. I would continue to diligently follow-up on constituent concerns regarding housing complaints in my district and work with residents and Baltimore Housing to find solutions. I also think it is imperative to support communities and groups in any way possible that want to adopt vacant lots and transition them into spaces that benefit their communities.

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?

All residents should have the opportunity to find affordable housing within our City. We need to continue to support the Inclusionary Housing Law to encourage more affordable units, we can support developers that want to build units to rent at discount to groups of people like teachers. Additionally, we need to continue to support groups like Live Baltimore and community development corporations, that educate residents on home ownership and incentives to do so. There are often instances in which purchasing a home can be more affordable than renting – and this information needs to be even more accessible to residents. And as we work on neighborhood development, creating more sustainable jobs, and making improvements to our transportation systems we will be able to better support residents.

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?

The best way for council to impact housing authority is through committee oversight along with applying pressure through federal delegation. If council uses this tool mayor will have to respond.

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?

We can always do better at communicating to and educating residents about the systems and programs in place to support them when they are struggling to pay their water bills and property taxes. It is imperative to ensure that adequate outreach is done to citizens about the potential danger of having their homes seized if they do not act before the tax sale process begins. Additionally, we need to make sure we are holding commercial properties at the same level or stricter accountability to pay than we are our residents.

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.

I am committed to a reduction in property taxes in the long run – as our property values increase throughout the city there will be minimal to no lost revenue in a slow reduction in property taxes. It is also important to make sure residents know of opportunities available for tax relief in things such as the homestead tax credit.

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

We need to make sure there is adequate funding available for effective enforcement of the inclusionary housing law and the law needs to be updated to reflect the true needs of our residents.

7. Is there anything else voters should know about your approach to housing in District 2?

District two is one of the strongest areas in city for housing. I am committed to making sure that stays true. That commitment includes making sure housing policies are fair, and work for all 2nd district citizens.

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