DIstrict 7 City Council Candidate Antonio Asa on Housing

Antonio Asa was the only candidate from District 7 to respond to the housing questionnaire, and his responses appear below, with no edits. The following candidates did not respond: Tamara Purnell, Marshall Bell, Kenneth Paul Church, Kerry Davidson, Jamar Day, David McMillan, Leon Pinkett, Ahmed Royalty, Shawn Tarrant, Westley West, Nnamdi Scott.

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 need to return housing and code enforcements officers which we abolished. We need to take action legally against slum landlords and property owners that do not repair , but allow the houses which were once the pride of communities to become eye sores. Fines should be imposed on such property owners. Many purchase and live out of town but get appraisals to raise capital for other things. Mean time these properties sit as eye sores, and often become drug stash houses or crack cocaine dens. This creates unsafe conditions in our communities. I am dedicated to ensuring that I will handle constituent housing complaints, take them seriously and follow up.

Next, I want a City construction division , because we don’t have one. We hire outsource works. This in phase one will create jobs for city employees. By renovating these properties I will have the City to hold the mortgages. This creates revenue without having to raise taxes again!

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?

Baltimore’s revitalized housing is targeted to meet those with the means to afford the housing being built or revitalized. Those persons with lesser means are being lost in the shuffle of greed they are being squeezed out by high taxes and outrageous Water Bills, Rain Water Tax and Cell phone Taxes!! The “ Once middle-Class” has shrank to be a very thin divider line between those who have and those who clearly do not . The “middle class is about 20% of Baltimore’s population with 40% of Baltimore being lower income. Unless new businesses are developed and supported within communities, which I propose then we have a serious problem indeed. By making communities stabile through reduced crime businesses will become interested in being part of the community. The middle class can expand then the choice to rent or own is theirs.

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?

I believe in being hands on! I am a very hands on person. If you want job done right do it yourself. By this I mean I will seek to establish tenant Councils. This means regular meetings to evaluate housing supervisors performance. The problem with the current “Old-way” is that nothing gets to the upper echelons. The problems are swept under the rug! Eventually there is going to be a huge lump and everyone will notice. By continuous monitoring we will avoid such nonsense from any future reoccurrences.

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 have to revise the law so that individuals are interviewed concerning their status. In take workers should sit to evaluate the income of a house hold. Perhaps a smaller water meter is the need rather than a larger one. However, if the family or individual does not have sufficient income verified then a wavier should be granted. Home owners who have lived in a residence for more than 7 years should receive a longevity incentive. Not, the seizure of their home. Many are elderly and require medications which are very costly. If they buy medicine to ease the pain they stand to lose their homes, GOD forbid!

We talk about helping the youth that is fine but what are we doing for those who helped this city before these younger generations were ever born?? Payment plans work total seizure of someone’s home doesn’t help , it just contributes to our vacant and eventually blighted property problem. The city could work a plan to utilize the equity in the home. This way the citizen still has a place to live. This is my solution. Lastly anyone purchasing a home should reside in Maryland to be reachable. The purchase agreement must comply with the residential codes of the community associations.

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.

Unfortunately Baltimore City has the highest property tax rate in Maryland. This combined with nonsense such as “Rain-water taxes” Cell phone taxes, and ridiculous water bills and high crime are causing families and businesses to relocate. I have a plan to reduce property taxes, to encourage residents to stay in their homes and entice potential residents to buy houses in our growing city. This I have detailed briefly in question number 1.

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

We need housing which mirrors the image of the families it is purported to serve. Many developments have single room units, one bedroom units and some are two bedroom units. These do not always meet the needs of families because some families are larger. I will require different designs for living units not the standard cookie cutter units being built. If developers want to help resolve urban housing problems , then I feel they should reassess what is really needed instead of statistic projections. I develop policies and procedures, I will seek to revise the housing codes to reflect the real needs of Baltimoreans who testify of what their needs are.

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

One of my greatest concerns is proper placement of families. At this time I am very ,very displeased with the way senior citizens are lumped together in housing with younger populations

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