In today's show, we focus on Baltimore City's ambitious $74 million plan to tear down row homes in derelict and vacant blocks and neighborhoods. It’s estimated the city has upwards of 16,000 vacants. We look for some context for these plans: what policies and practices make eliminating blight successful for city economies and the people who live in them? And what locks communities out of economic growth and change? Alan Mallach joins Tom in the studio. He’s a city planner, writer and senior fellow with the Center For Community Progress.
The work that Tom's next guest has done shows why eliminating blight is such an urgent problem. If you live in an area where blight is prevalent, it doesn’t just have a negative impact on your real estate values. It can have a very harmful impact on your health. Dr. Eugenia South has studied how blight impacts health and well-being in Philadelphia, a city with roughly 40,000 vacants. Dr. South is a resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Then, Tom takes a few minutes to talk about voting, and why it's especially important for Baltimorians to use the power of their votes in the April 26 primary election for Mayor to help shape the city's future.
And finally, an upbeat segment on the theme of urban blight: the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, known as BOPA, and Baltimore City’s Growing Green Initiative have been enlisting artists and activists to help "green" blighted lots with beautiful art installations and engaging, community-affirming activities. The new program is called Lots Alive. Joining Tom in the studio to discuss the program is Maggie Villegas, a Public Art Project Specialist at BOPA, and Jenny Guillaume, with the Department of Planning’s Sustainability Office.