The Rawlings-Blake Review: Vacants to Value

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Issue #182 • Friday, November 15, 2013

IMAGE: Dilapidated houses about to be demolished by a Vacants to Value bulldozer.

This past Tuesday, we celebrated the third anniversary of Baltimore’s acclaimed Vacants to Value initiative. When I formed Vacants to Value, the mission was clear: to get Baltimore’s vacant and abandoned properties cleaned up and redeveloped more quickly, more efficiently, and more economically.

Three years later, Vacants to Value has helped to initiate the rehabilitation of 1,400 vacant properties, demolition of 700 dilapidated structures, and adoption & greening of over 800 lots by community groups. Over 500 homebuyer assistance grants have been awarded through the program.

But our work is far from done. This week we redoubled our efforts by re-launching Vacants to Value with a fresh look and a new website, as well as an upgraded Baltimore Homeownership Incentives Program (B-HiP). With the new B-HiP, we are increasing Baltimore City employee homeownership incentives from $3,000 to $5,000 and increasing Live Baltimore’s Buying Into Baltimore incentive from $4,000 to $5,000. We are also campaigning to double employer and employee participation in the Live Near Your Work.

This is an exciting time for our city—particularly for all of the neighborhoods across Baltimore that are being improved because of this innovative program. Baltimore is steeped in history, culture, and pride. Our more than 200 neighborhoods make up the urban heart of Maryland, and Vacants to Value is about preserving and enhancing the splendor of this magnificent city. It’s about attracting new residents and bringing relief to families that have called Baltimore home for decades.

For me, the true measure of success is in the faces of the communities—and families—that are being transformed for the better because of our efforts.

On Tuesday I was pleased to stand with Ms. Cynite Cooke on the steps of what is soon to be her new home—a formerly vacant property that is being rehabilitated through Vacants to Value. Ms. Cooke moved to Baltimore to work as a teacher for Baltimore City Public Schools. After living here for a few years, she decided to put down roots in the city by taking advantage of the numerous homeownership incentives we have put in place. Her heart has been in Baltimore for years, but with the help of Vacants to Value, she is now able to make Baltimore her home. Stories like Ms. Cooke’s are happening all over Baltimore and are exactly how we will grow our city one resident at a time.

Our third anniversary celebration culminated with the latest Vacants to Value demolition success story. After years of waiting, community members watched as a number of blighted structures in the 1300 block of Hillman Avenue were finally torn down. After the space is cleared, beginning next year we are going to consolidate the lots and lease the space out as an urban farm.

I am committed to working every day to make each community in Baltimore stronger, and I’m grateful to be mayor of a city with so many community partners who are willing to step up and work with government to move our city forward. Let’s keep up the fight, and together, I know we can make Baltimore’s future even brighter.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my website or by email at You can also follow the Mayor’s Office and be a part of the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.


Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor, City of Baltimore

Stories of a Growing City

Vacants to value: growing Baltimore block by block

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore’s Vacants to Value housing initiative gets national attention


Cal Ripken Jr opens new youth development field in Park Heights


Greater Homewood honors those who help 'transform Baltimore'

The Baltimore Sun

City firefighters cover 20 blocks in "Smoke Alarm Sweep"


What other cities can learn from Baltimore's outcome-based budgeting


Our Baltimore Cityscapes

IMAGE: Leaves begin to assume their autumn colors on a tidy residential street in Ridgely's Delight

Leaves begin to assume their autumn colors on a tidy street in Ridgely's Delight. The neighborhood's historic designation protects its charming atmosphere of 19th century homes & tree-lined streets.

On November 30, local businesses here and on Main Streets throughout Baltimore will celebrate Small Business Saturday to support Baltimore's local economy.

Photo by Mark Dennis

Community Bulletin

Employ Baltimore – Ready to Work for You

Get connected to a job by becoming a part of Employ Baltimore – Ready to Work for You, Baltimore City’s strategy to link residents to great paying jobs. Participants must have a high school diploma or GED and work experience. To learn more, visit one of Baltimore City's full-service career centers or neighborhood-based Community Job Hubs, head to, or call 410-396-3009. Get started on your career pathway today!


  • Northwest One-Stop Career Center: 2401 Liberty Heights Avenue, Mondawmin Mall Suite 302 (410-523-1060)
  • Eastside One-Stop Career Center: 3001 E. Madison Street (410-396-9030)
  • Baltimore Works One-Stop Career Center: 1100 N. Eutaw Street (410-767-2148)


  • Bon Secours Community Works: 26 N. Fulton Avenue (410-362-3629)
  • Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation: 5513 York Road (410-532-7117)
  • My Brother’s Keeper: 4207 Frederick Avenue (410-644-3194)
  • Southern Community Action Center: 606 Cherry Hill Road (410-545-0900)
  • Transforming Life Church of God: 4801 Sipple Avenue (410-485-6193)

Chesapeake Bay Trust 2014 Awards Program

The Chesapeake Bay Trust honors students and teachers who promote education, improve local communities, and help restore the Chesapeake Bay. If you know someone who deserves the Teacher of the Year, Student of the Year, or Honorable Arthur Dorman Scholarship, complete the application online. The two student awards include a $5,000 scholarship, and the teacher award is accompanied by a $2,500 grant. Nominations are due December 2 by 5:00 pm. For more information, visit or contact Molly Alton Mullins at or 410-974-2941 ext. 107.

Bagged Leaf Collection

The Department of Public Works' bagged leaf collection season begins Monday, October 28 and will continue through Monday, January 6. The Bureau of Solid Waste will collect up to 20 bags of leaves from each address every Monday throughout the season. Residents must call 311 to schedule pickup. Please call before 10:00 pm on the Sunday prior to your desired Monday collection. Residents may make appointments up to two months prior to the pick-up date. The Bureau of Solid Waste will also continue to collect up to 5 bags of leaves from each address on regularly scheduled trash collection days. Bags must be clearly labeled. Residents may also drop off bagged leaves at five Bureau of Solid Waste locations: 

  • Quarantine Road Sanitary Landfill, 6100 Quarantine Road
  • Western Citizen Convenience Center, 701 Reedbird Avenue
  • Eastern Citizen Convenience Center, 6101 Bowleys Lane
  • Northwest Citizen Convenience Center, 2840 Sisson Street
  • Northwest Transfer Station, 5030 Reisterstown Road

For more information visit

Upcoming Affairs

Holidays at the Baltimore Farmers' Market & Bazaar

Sundays through December 22, 7:00 am – sell out (approximately noon)
Saratoga Street between Holliday and Gay Streets

Beginning Sunday, November 24, farmers at the market will sell items beyond what they produce to give market-goers additional options for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals. During this time, shoppers can find a wide selection of foods, including some of the region’s freshest produce, meats, preserves, and more. The bazaar features a wide range of handmade jewelry, clothing & accessories, and arts. For more information, call 410-752-8632 or visit

Credit Improvement and Foreclosure Workshop

Saturday, November 16, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon

Southern Community Action Center, 606 Cherry Hill Road

The Mayor’s Office of Human Services’ Community Action Partnership presents this FREE workshop. Begin with an overview of credit and its impact on everyone. Trained staff will help you retrieve and review your credit reports. Civil Justice, Inc. will provide pro-bono assistance to homeowners looking for advice. For more information, contact Pete Pakas at 410-545-6958 or email

The League for People with Disabilities Benefit

Saturday, November 23, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The League for People with Disabilities, 1111 E. Cold Spring Lane

This 13th annual sale of gently-worn fur coats and jackets will support programs that help improve the quality of life for children and adults with a wide range of disabilities. Clothing and accessories in leather and fabrics, as well as holiday gift items, will also be available. For more information, visit or call 410-323-0500.

Baltimore City Y Turkey Trot Charity 5k

Thursday, November 28, 
Druid Hill Park, 2600 Madison Avenue

Join the Y of Central Maryland for a Thanksgiving Day tradition that raises critically needed funds to support kids throughout Central Maryland whose families live in poverty. On Thanksgiving morning, bring the whole family for the Turkey Trot Charity 5K run/walk. Prizes will be awarded in each age group. Registration is $25 online, $30 in person or mail-in, and $35 on race day. For more information, a list of additional locations, or to register, visit through Saturday, November 23, or visit your local Family Center Y.

Festival of Trees

Friday – Sunday, November 29 – December 1
Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Timonium

The largest seasonal festival on the East Coast, Kennedy Krieger’s annual fundraiser will feature more than 600 decorated trees, wreaths, and gingerbread houses, as well as family-friendly activities and entertainment. General admission is $13 for adults and $7 for children ages 5-12 and seniors. Children 4 and under are free. To purchase discounted tickets in advance or learn how to earn free tickets, visit or call 443-923-7300.

Engine House #45 Annual Train Garden

November 30 – January 4, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Glen Avenue Fire House, 2700 Glen Avenue

Celebrate the Holiday season at the Glen Avenue Fire Engine House #45 with the annual Train Garden. Admission is free, but personnel at Engine House #45 are collecting toys to be distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, and pediatric rehab centers, as well as needy families in the area. Take advantage of this holiday tradition and an opportunity to show your generosity during this season of giving.

A Monumental Occasion

Thursday, December 5, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Mount Vernon Place, 600 block N. Charles Street

Mount Vernon Place celebrates the holiday season with the 42nd annual lighting of the Washington Monument. Festivities begin at 5:00 pm. The lighting ceremony begins at 7:00 pm. The evening will include musical performances by Morgan State University Choir, Baltimore School for the Arts Tap Dancing Santas, and Soulful Symphony. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and a special guest will officially light the monument at approximately 7:45, followed by a colorful fireworks and laser finale. For more information, call 1-877-BALTIMORE or visit

World Holiday Traditions at the National Aquarium

Friday, December 6, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt Street

Celebrate traditions from across the globe with joyous music and customs of the holiday season. Learn all about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. See beautiful Nativity scenes from around the world; meet Santa and the National Aquarium mascot, Puffin; make holiday cards to send to veterans from recycled materials; and more! All activities are included with general admission, which is greatly discounted thanks to the National Aquarium's Fridays After 5:00 promotion. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit