The Development, Real Estate, and Gentrification Beat

Baltimore Metro. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
  •  As The Sun’s Luke Broadwater reported, Disability Rights Maryland has revealed a handful of cases where formerly public housing now owned by private developers has evicted tenants too quickly and without proper notice. A complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development confronts the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), which has violated the agreement that gave tenants the same rights under private ownership as they had under public ownership. In 2015, housing sold 22 public housing complexes to private developers. This is devastating though hardly a surprise: Who’d have thought that when you privatize public housing and therefore provide even less oversight, developers tend to act cruelly and improperly? Well just about anybody who has been critiquing the pivot toward privatization of nearly everything over the past few years.
  • Last week, Jared Kushner’s companies, which are tied to a sprawling lawsuit that alleges piling on fees and wrongfully threatening immediate eviction of Baltimore residents, requested the lawsuit be moved back to Baltimore City rather than federal court. The reason? A judge had ruled that if it went to federal court, the Kushner companies would’ve had to reveal the identities of their investment partners. So it bounces back to Baltimore City, where the Kushners will surely have a harder time in court but can keep investors’ names secret. This all stems from a piece by Baltimore’s own Alec MacGillis at ProPublica from a 2017 article titled “Kushnerville.”
  • As the Baltimore Business Journal reported last week that the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which has built 75 or so baseball fields for youth, is looking at adding fields in “at-risk” areas of the city—specifically Cherry Hill and Westport.
  • There have been plenty of murmurs about outrageously high BG&E bills by many residents lately—and many say it’s not as simple as using more to heat their homes, something’s off—but last week, the Baltimore Department of Public Works did confirm that there’s something askew about our water bills: Nearly 600 residents received seriously inflated bills. Public Works blamed the screw-up on recent software and is reaching out to everybody who got the high bills to fix them.
  • With little warning, Baltimore’s Metro system has been closed for repairs through March 11. The reasons behind the closures seems legit—there is track work that’s pressing enough that it has to be done immediately—but the way this has been handled has frustrated many Metro riders and will no doubt inconvenience the nearly 20,000 Baltimoreans who use it to get to and from work during the week. In response, Gov. Larry Hogan provided $2.2 million in emergency funding for buses to run the Metro’s route.
  • Many observed that amid Gov. Larry Hogan’s supposed offering of a “blank check” to Amazon to improve transit as a way to lure the company to Montgomery County, the swift closing of the Baltimore Metro seems especially cruel. Well, something got miscommunicated, Hogan claims, because there is no blank check. Still, there’s a serious push to court Amazon—which might as well mean “blank check” if you really think about it—while Baltimore transit remains a mess.
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