Abandoned homes aren't good neighbors
About 5,000 of Baltimore's vacant and uninhabitable homes are on mostly occupied blocks, the city says. When abandonment and residents intersect, things can get ugly.
A family in Wilson Park has been struggling for months and months with the vacant rowhouse next door, which damaged their house. The neighboring home's pipes burst early this year, flooding the Malaneys' basement. Last year, while it was still occupied, its roofing material ripped off during a storm, letting water into the Malaneys' walls and ceilings.
The city took the fairly unusual step in this case of spending $18,500 to replace the abandoned home's roof and remove moldy drywall, insulation and carpet, hoping that would help the Malaneys' situation when going after the owner proved fruitless.
Housing officials say that's not an expense they can swing for most vacant properties. In the past three fiscal years, the city stabilized 26 abandoned properties -- half of them last year. More common: "partial" demolitions, where the city removes an unstable portion of a vacant property. It went that route with just over 450 homes in the last three fiscal years, 137 of them last year.