District 10 City Council Candidate Christine Digman on Housing

Christine Digman was the second of two District 10 candidates to respond to the questionnaire. Her answers 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?

We could sell vacant houses in a lottery system for $100 per address and folks would prequalify for low interest loans granted by the city @ 3%. They would have to occupy and not rent out or sell for 7 years. Perhaps also offering a property tax break for a determined amount of time. Paying for the plan is self funding… money in is better than no revenue from from a vacant house. Bringing in revenue will revitalize the community.

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 need to educate the middle class. I believe home ownership in any capacity trumps renting. The first house a person buys should be a “starter house”. Again, offer property tax incentives.

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?

An independent investigation should follow an audit and those offenders should be held criminally responsible.

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?

If we could increase the tax base, the intention is to lower the property tax across the board, thus making it easier for the elderly to meet their obligations. The structure would come with tiering property taxes against proven income to enable the elderly to stay in their homes.

If a house is sold and then if it is left to ruin by an absent landlord, not only fines should be initiated but jail time and community service should be instituted.

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.

Lowering property taxes would attract people back to the city. This would increase the tax base, getting revenue from many rather than little or nothing from an already over burdened and over taxed citizen. I believe this would actually increase revenue.

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

If a developer does not perfom his end of a stated contract then fines, jail time and community service should follow. If the City does not have the funds to audit such programs, then do not offer them at this time.

7. Is there anything else voters should know about your approach to housing in District 10?

Housing is available and plentiful in the city. The people need to be educated and need to understand budgeting and living within their means. Giving things away does not create any incentive or pride of ownership. If you do not have any equity in something then it does not mean anything to you, and you do not take care of it as well.