House bill

Council Speaker Mosby apologizes after heated hearing on his dollar bill – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) –A Baltimore City Council meeting meant to address Baltimore’s chronic vacant property issues took an unexpected turn Tuesday night when a speaker and a council member began yelling at each other.

City Council Speaker Nick Mosby apologized Wednesday after the hearing on his proposal to relaunch the Dollar House program.

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“Unfortunately, some actions have been completely disrespectful to the institution of the city council, to this historic building and to the overwhelming number of citizens who were here to participate and civically engage in their government,” he told the Estimates Board hearing on Wednesday. “And as the leader of the institution, it is my responsibility to ensure that this never happens again.”

Bruce Marks, CEO of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America or NACA, initially had Mosby’s backing. But during the hearing, Marks accused Councilwoman Odette Ramos and Mayor Brandon Scott of working for big developers. Councilwoman Ramos who was at the meeting fired back to defend her record.

Mosby pledged to work with Scott, the Baltimore Police Department and the Department of General Services to avoid future disruptions at government headquarters after Marks led a crowd to the mayor’s office on Tuesday night and knocked on the door , telling supporters that the mayor had refused to meet with his organization to talk about the program.

James Bentley, a spokesman for Scott, said the nonprofit never requested a meeting with the mayor until Tuesday evening.

“You just can’t come here, really acting like a kid and thinking you’re going to come here from Boston and demand things,” Mayor Scott said Wednesday. “We just can’t let people operate that way.”

In a joint statement on Twitter On Wednesday, council members Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Odette Ramos, James Torrence, Phylicia Porter and Kristerfer Burnett said they “condemn the dangerous behavior exhibited at last night’s city council hearing”, and the officials called on Mosby not just to apologize to the council, but “to all of Baltimore.”

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The issue of vacant properties drew even more attention in January, when three firefighters died after a fire at a vacant townhouse. The mayor said his administration would immediately find ways to reduce – what was then – nearly 15,000 vacant properties.

Last month, Mayor Scott pledged $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to remedy vacant properties. The investment included funding for capital investments, blight removal and prevention, and resident protection, but does not flow into the dollar house program.

Scott’s spokesperson said Tuesday night that selling homes for a dollar apiece is “pie in the sky” that doesn’t solve the real problems.

“It’s about taking those vacant homes that you know will require hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment, putting them in the hands of people who have the ability to do it, and doing it with the community” , said the mayor.

Despite Tuesday’s disruptions, Council Speaker Mosby still sees the Dollar Home program as a pathway to homeownership for some of Baltimore’s poorest.

Under the proposal, former Baltimore residents, those who have lived in the city for more than a decade, would be eligible to purchase vacant city-owned homes for $1. They would also receive a $50,000 grant from the city for renovations under a repair grant bill, and NACA would provide a low-interest loan to pay the mortgage.

“This is a real program, in a very unconventional way at a very unique time, to allow people to have pipelines into homeownership,” Council Chairman Mosby said.

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The bill passed last month and ended in a 7-7 tie, with one absentee vote. The city council did not vote and did not plan to vote on Tuesday evening.