Mayoral candidates David Warnock and Councilman Nick Mosby released dueling housing plans Thursday they said they would pursue if elected to the city’s highest office.
Warnock said vacant houses– 16,000 of them by the city’s count – could be turned into job opportunities. Mosby released a 12-page plan heavy on tax incentives.
Warnock announced his plan in front of a vacant property at Lanvale and Gilmore streets in the Harlem Park neighborhood.
“We can transform our city’s vacant housing problem with real jobs, real opportunities; real programs that strengthen each and every neighborhood in our city,” he said.
Mosby posted his plan online.
Warnock’s plan involves a two for one approach; teach people job skills as they are tearing down and rebuilding properties and they can use those skills to get jobs and buy homes.
Warnock pointed to Green JobWorks, his city-based company that teaches construction skills to people who have been out of work for a long time, as an example.
Warnock also said he wants to provide easier access to housing for the homeless as well as provide services such as drug counseling and mental health treatment. And he wants to look at ways to reward the “pioneers” of neighborhoods like Harlem Park; people who stayed in the area.
“There’s so many people I run into every day in these neighborhoods that believe in these neighborhoods,” he said.
Ninety minutes before Warnock’s news conference, Mosby released his plan on his campaign website. It covers property taxes, vacant properties, housing for the homeless, stronger inclusionary housing laws and tax sale foreclosures.
Mosby’s plan envisions a tiered tax system for vacants; making it more expensive to leave properties in poor condition.
He also wants to bring to Baltimore a rapid housing program, which seeks to put the homeless or those under threat of homelessness in permanent housing quickly. According to his plan, Utah spends $8,000 a year per person on permanent housing for the homeless and provides them with social services while Baltimore spends $20,000 a year per person on homeless shelters, emergency room visits and other related costs.
Mosby said he developed his plan after “sitting down with hundreds of folks – subject matter experts, community leaders, law school professors; anybody that is really willing to talk about the challenges that face our city for far too long.”
He and Warnock want to tie tax incentives for downtown development to developing struggling neighborhoods.
They also are among several mayoral candidates calling for a change in leadership at Baltimore Housing which is comprised of the Baltimore City Housing Authority and the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development.
Mosby called for the resignation of Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano; Warnock said he would fire him if elected.
Graziano has been under scrutiny since a scandal involving maintenance workers at public housing complexes demanding female tenants perform sex acts in exchange for home repairs.
The city settled a class-action lawsuit brought by some of the tenants for $8 million in January.