Cecilia Gonzalez Carrie Baniszewski Nneka Nnamdi Kevin Gallaher Briana Ciccarino John Kern Tony Scott Derrick McCorvey Diana Geis Roger Wood Sharon Park Laura Dykes Patrick Jordan Scott Kashnow Meghan Cardoso Loriane Arikat Leila Kohler-Frueh Paulette Carroll

Intro (7:00-7:15 PM, 15 min)

  • Name, affiliation, and question: What’s something you have on your bucket list?
  • Review and approval of February Minutes
    • Derrick makes motion to approve, Diana seconds, motion passes

Education (7:15-7:45 PM, 30 min)

  • Nneka Nmadi described her connection to her neighborhood, Heritage Crossing in Upton, and how the fact of its creation due to the Thompson vs. HUD court case is a major influence in her work in moving toward incurring that former residents of historic West Baltimore can return.
  • Nmadi shared a slide; “Baltimore Tax Sale Timeline” and explained how the tax sale system had been working in the city.  What she, with the Stop Oppressive Seizures (SOS) Fund, have done is help fund the ability for people to be able to pay bills landing them in tax sales in order that they be able to stay in their homes.  This includes small donations. 
  • John Kern explained that there are ways to ensure that homes don’t go to tax sale in the first place.  Key is tax credits.  Homeowner Property Tax is one means.  Approx. 40% of the people eligible for it do not apply, however.
  • Water bills as part of tax sale has been mitigated.  
  • There are some new programs, like tax sale deferral program  and ways that the Comptroller is attempting to inform more people about the property tax credits this year.  There is other legislation aiming to address as well. 
  • Getting your name on the deed is key to being able to access the deferral and water bill help programs.
  • There is a clinic that the SOS Fund will hold on March 18 (shared flyer). Info can be found on the SOS Fund site. There will be 3 more clinics coming up. 
  • In-rem foreclosure:  aims to expedite process for getting vacant properties into use. It centers community more in how those properties will be dispositioned. 
  • Receivership is one current tool, but it takes a lot of time and can lead to bidding wars.
  • In-rem allows ability to control outcomes of what happens with the properties better. The amount of liens on the property needs to be higher than the assessed value of the property. The legal process includes reviewing whether there are any heirs.  
  • DHCD has a way for addresses to be put in and immediately reviewed for whether it may be eligible for in-rem.  If not, then it can become an issue for code enforcement. (Code enforcement input 412% more cases last year?  Doublecheck whether i head that correctly).
  • And in-rem is part of why you are hearing about Land Banks now.
  • Tomorrow at 11am is a gathering for Land Bank Legislation about to be released at the City Council level.  This will be held at 300 Smallwood in East Baltimore.  Please join.  There will also be time for public comment. (flyer shared) 
  • Link to see if a property is “in-rem-able”:  In Rem Eligibility Form | Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development
  • SOS Fund referral form:  The SOS Fund Referral Form (


  • Q&A
    • If we want to find out/report a property for in rem, what is the process through 311? First, it has to have a Vacant House Notice (VBN:  find on DHCD site here:)
    • John will get a list of the various citations, etc. that can help 
    • Scott K:  discussion regarding extra fines on top of a VBN.  And, what was the original reason for having the tax sale in the first place? 
    • Nneka–initially the intention for the tax sale was for the jurisdictions to have a vehicle by which they could collect delinquent property taxes in a timely fashion.  But, it is designed so that the investors can get their guaranteed 12-18% of return.  
    • On those 7.680 properties w/VBN and active tax liens.  City spends about 5500 annually on each.  City gets about 20 million through tax sale, but spends about 40 million on them annually.
    • Investment earnings have been prioritized beyond the needs of the people. 
    • How much of the old liens do they actually get? 
    • John:  they offer about 150 mil in liens in each year, and collect about 22 million.  So it’s not even that effective.   Info. here:  Investing in Distress: Tax Delinquency and Predatory Tax Buying in Urban America – Andrew W. Kahrl, 2017 (
    • Cecilia:  we are planning to have an event in April w/Code Enforcement to continue the conversation about these things.  Also, any advice?
    • Nneka:  have a clear view of which properties you want to tackle first.  And, look into cases where people haven’t paid taxes in order to identify those who need help, but also those investors who are not scrupulous.  Then when you go to Code Enforcement, say these are the people in need of help.  And these are the housing providers with properties not in the best condition, and we want them to get some help.  And this is the list of derelict investors who aren’t in town, etc. who we want to have held accountable. There _are_ criminal penalties for the conditions of these properties.  We’re looking for strategies that don’t have Ms. Mabel getting dragged downtown…and so its key to know what properties need help and who you want to target to be held accountable. 
    • John–Bree Jones did a lot of her own work tracking down owners. Can’t stress enough in-rem bill in Annapolis, but also the land bank bill.  They are hiring attorneys now for in-rem, but they need a solution for the properties (like a land bank).  Talk to your councilperson, and to other council members!
    • Contact info:  John: 410-303-3738
    • John and Nneka will be contacting the group about reaching out about tax sale this year.  They don’t erase the debt with the new deferral  program, just don’t take their home away.  
    • Nneka:  there is money available to aid, but need to get that info. Out there and get people signed up. 
    • Evictions:  they refer them to Public Justice Center Public Justice Center or in housing to Renters United Renters United Maryland – Renters United Maryland

Progress Updates (7:45-8:15 PM, 30 min)

  • SWP Housing Plan, Patrick Jordan, Heron Consulting (10 mins)
    • Patrick noted the good work that Fight Blight Bmore does across the city, and emphasized the importance of the land bank legislation
    • Has now met with all 7 nhoods.  Common themes:  addressing vacancy at scale, increasing homeownership for current residents who would like to purchase a home, keeping legacy homeowners, development without displacement. 
    • Initiated some neighborhood walks.
    • Vacancy numbers are higher than what you will see on a CodeMap list.  
    • Doing a walk soon w/Union Sq. with maps to mark what is known to be un-lived in, abandoned houses.
    • Identify problems on each block.
    • Hope to complete by the end of the month
    • Working on draft strategy.  Will take cues from success of  ReBuild Metro. 
    • Taking a whole block approach.  Work on acquisition, etc. that will create growth but not push people out. Supporting legacy homeowners–thinking of 3 pilot nodes (Hollins/Union, Fayette St. outreach, Mt. Clare toward shopping center).  Pigtown more like a unit by unit approach, and in Barre Circle.  In Poppleton, aiming to follow the lead of Poppleton residents. Taking appropriate second chair to these resident efforts.
    • March 28th –developers small group meeting.  Anyone who wants to join, can. What are they seeing as opportunities, impediments, challenges, successes.
    • Looking to make good connections to health, energy, economic development.
    • By April hope are set with being able to support with devising implementation plan, so that it’s not just an action plan but implementable. 
    • Scott:  listened to DHCD plan the other night, and did not see the same strategies in that.  If their plan is not aligned, how to get our plan to be better included in their plan?
    • One thing they were trying to address is vacancy, and thinking about this not just from the perspective of housing, but other things…lighting, sidewalk conditions, cleanliness, etc.  
    • Patrick:  completely agree that need in the plans things that would help complement the housing plan (lighting, etc.).  There is a lot of good momentum in SW, like West Balt Renaissance Center, etc.  We are working with these other groups to say intro. housing plan ideas to make them aware and so synergy and dual effort can be made.
    • Re: DHCD strategy – we are focused on ReBuild Metro strategies
    • Southwest – Community Conversation | Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development
    • Laura:  q. About funding for the appraisal gap. Patrick: we are trying to help fund this in the strategy and what we’re trying to solve for in a stable housing market. 
    •   Tony shared a link:
  • Downpayment Assistance Program, Carrie/Cecilia (10 mins)
    • Have a 10K downpayment assistance program.  Homebuyers have to go through NHS. 
    • Carrie has been referring people to NHS but struggling to actually give out money for down payment assistance 
      • Suggested to have a meeting with NHS to figure out a solution 
    • Tony explains why it’s beneficial to have a financial intermediary like the NHS so that it can be a revolving fund and they have the technical knowledge to make this happen
    • It’s good idea to talk with ED of NHS; Also suggesting talking with state contact to administer this as grants. 
    • Leila: Meredeith at GBA has a similar down payment assistance through NHS and suggests we reach out to her. Would also suggest that perhaps opening up the options for HUD-approved housing counselors to those across the City could be helpful
    • Nick Mayr is the current State contact.
    • Q:  if someone has been qualified by NHS, could they then come buy in SWP area?  Carrie:  yes, it goes both ways. 
  • Resident Handbook, Diana/Loraine (5 mins)
    • Have come up with an idea to have it online, because there are so many links.  Will also have postcards published with the QR code. Have someone who will work on graphics of this. 
    • Resident’s Handbook – Google Docs
  • Volunteer day with Habitat, Diana (2 min)
    • Diana shared a presentation about her (and Bill’s)volunteer day with Habitat.
    • Group would really like to have a Saturday for a future volunteer event, as it was too difficult to secure a full day on a weekday for most people (in order to join).
  • April Code Enforcement Event, Tony/Cecilia (2 mins)
    • Will be sending more details when confirmed time at BioPark will be held
    • Q:  will that still be a combined meeting?  Commercial and Historic committees invited yet?

Community Updates (8:15-8:30 PM, 15 min)

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