Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “Combating Blight in Your Neighborhood” by Peter Duvall

If your neighborhood is looking to address problem and vacant properties, this workshop will help you understand your options. Register for the Neighborhood Institute and help improve the safety and beauty of your block!

GHCC's Revitalization Manager, Peter Duvall, in Harwood.

GHCC’s Neighborhood Revitalization Manager, Peter Duvall.

One of the first impressions of a neighborhood comes from the quality of its housing stock. A block filled with properly maintained, occupied homes is safer and more attractive to potential residents. Neighborhoods throughout Baltimore City deal with a variety of problem properties, including vacant homes, nuisance and criminal properties, houses that are not kept up to expected housing code standards.

Navigating the code enforcement system in Baltimore City can be complex and confusing. For nearly a decade, GHCC’s Neighborhood Revitalization Manager Peter Duvall has supported neighborhood leaders looking to combat blight in their communities. Peter works with residents to identify problem properties and work with City officials to ensure timely code enforcement. In the “Combating Blight in Your Neighborhood” workshop, Peter will focus on how community residents can support enforcing the City’s housing, zoning, building, and related codes to maintain the appearance and value of Baltimore’s neighborhoods.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). You can register for the event by following this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant to community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.

GHCC takes part in Harwood demolition

Karen Stokes is applauded after riding an excavator and demolishing a building.

On Monday, May 14, GHCC Executive Director Karen Stokes and Community Revitalization Coordinator Peter Duvall took part in nine demolitions on the 2600 block of Greenmount Avenue in Harwood. As one of the Mayor’s Vacants to Value Community Development Cluster (CDC) areas, this block is a strategic zone undergoing major revitalization in an effort to increase investment and reduce the number of vacants in the area. So far, vacants have been reduced by 13% and nearly $300,000 in private capital will be invested.

“Harwood, like many of our blighted neighborhoods, has suffered from 50 years of disinvestment,” said Commissioner Paul T. Graziano, who led the demolition alongside the Mayor. “This didn’t happen overnight, but our demolition today should signal anyone who is interested that the City is committed to making a major impact in this wonderful community.”

14th District City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke presents GHCC with a house number from one of the demolished properties as a thank you for our work in the neighborhood.

GHCC’s Strategic Code Enforcement program targets key dilapidated properties with criminal activity, severely deteriorated buildings, and ownership issues such as foreclosures. For the past ten years, Peter Duvall has been working with residents and community leaders in Harwood to identify and abate the most flagrant properties that are negatively impacting quality of life and property values. In that time, the number of vacant houses has declined from nearly 200 to 63, with several rehabs currently in progress. Monday’s demolition will create an opportunity for successful revitalization by making way for future development.

Photos courtesy of Baltimore Housing. To see more, visit GHCC on Flickr.