City to put on expo about rehabbing vacant homes
Baltimore officials want vacant homes renovated and lived in again, because that fixes a host of problems in one fell swoop. So they're hoping you go this weekend to a city-organized event about -- what else? -- rehabbing vacant homes.
More than 200 people have already registered for the free expo, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the city's housing department says.
Julie Day, deputy commissioner of land resources at at the agency, known as Baltimore Housing, said the event will offer seminars on choosing a contractor, rehab financing options, understanding the permitting process and the like. The information is aimed at people hoping to redevelop vacants for a living, prospective home buyers looking for a place to fix up and live in, and housing counselors who want to help walk buyers through the process.
Teresa Stephens, director of marketing and community outreach for land resources at Baltimore Housing, said a vacant property "can offer a home buyer a really good opportunity."
"Often it does take a little vision and rose-colored glasses to see it," she added.
Expo participants will get a list of city-owned vacants that were purchased, rehabbed and are now for sale. Ten will be open for viewing Saturday afternoon, Day said.
The expo is an outgrowth of the city's Vacants to Value program. That's an effort to turn the tide on Baltimore's long problem of abandonment by picking up the pace on sales of city-owned homes, more aggressively going after vacancy in otherwise healthy areas through code enforcement and taking other steps -- such as tear-downs -- when called for.
Sales are up -- they're on pace to double last year's figure, Day says. But part of the challenge facing the city is that even a doubling of sales is just a small dent in the total. (And WBAL-TV reported last month that a number of sales the city is claiming as Vacants to Value successes were already in the works before the program existed.)
If you'd like to attend the Saturday expo, you can find out here how to register. Day expects it won't be the city's last offering on the subject.
"The interest is really enthusiastic and growing, so I do see that we will be doing either similar workshops or a similar format with different content," she said.