Residents of Baltimore and its surrounding counties will be well aware of the poor quality the housing stock finds itself in. As the Maryland Center for History and Culture highlights, housing and especially public housing has been in poor quality for decades. The city and private businesses have simply not had the resources available to make serious, long-term changes. Making permanent improvements is difficult, but possible – but immediate change needs to be made.
Poverty and repair
For many Baltimore residents, poverty is a reality of life. Up to 40% of Baltimore residents are below the poverty line, and that means they cannot help themselves when it comes to must-have repairs. Broken appliances are a common source of stress and reduced quality of life, and prompt appliance repair can often prevent spiraling issues. In the short term, advocates and the city should seek to improve the appliances and amenities that are core to daily tasks in Baltimore homes.
Reimagine MB has created its own plan for regenerated and good quality social housing, and that comes in a green focus. Prioritizing the South Baltimore area, these neighborhoods would encompass low-cost, high-quality housing that ties into future climate goals and environmental needs. This is arguably the most important part of future planning. It needs to be ready for the future, works for residents, and be something that can be seen as sustainable and useful even when the current generation no longer requires housing.
For all of this to become a permanent benefit, change needs to be made to the core of city policy. Housing advocates Governing.com note how Baltimore city was forced to pay a huge judgment to citizens housed within buildings clad in lead paint. These changes happen from oversight and cost-cutting, and cannot be allowed to reoccur if housing stock in the city and state is to remain high quality and suitable for future use, deep-seated political change is required.
The Baltimore housing system has endemic problems that need serious thought to rectify. In the short term, impoverished residents need support to keep their houses up and running even as the systems that power them are failing. In the long-term, serious political change can create an environment for house-building that’s conducive to the public good and will prevent issues before they ever arise in the future.