I met an older resident living in one of two remaining occupied houses, on an otherwise vacant blockface.
When I asked what her top concern was, she glanced quickly to her left and then to her right, indicating the groups of young boys stationed on either corner selling drugs. She whispered quietly to me, “You can see what my concern is.”
She never moved her head in either direction because she could not give away that she was talking about those young kids, some of whom were very likely armed.
We chatted briefly and then there was a commotion on one of the corners. She quickly retreated back inside and I ducked to my car. It wasn’t safe for either of us to be chatting at the door right then.
And then two weeks ago, my husband was assaulted as he walked down a busy street at 9:30 am. Someone approached him from behind and started punching him in his head. They took his Apple watch and his iPhone.
Thank God, my husband is okay, but he isn’t the only one with a scary story of physical violence. And not everyone ends up okay. My heart is with every resident who has shared their story with us from their stoops.
If any lasting harm had come to my husband, I would have been furious with Baltimore’s politicians because it doesn’t need to be this way.
With the federal stimulus coming Baltimore’s way, we are truly out of excuses. We can fund a safer city with fair economic opportunity for all, in just three years.
Here’s what we need to do:
- Meaningfully fund violence prevention strategies that work
- The most effective violence prevention strategies in the US are group violence reduction strategy and cognitive behavioral therapy. In Baltimore, both are woefully underfunded by millions. We can finally fund these strategies properly.
- Build recreation centers for youth
- We can extend lifelines to our kids with more recreational centers, more youth counselors, and free, accessible therapy at every center.
- Get vacants to functional zero and light the streets
- We can light our streets and cap property taxes at a lower rate to make properties more valuable and more desirable. If we do, then data shows that right away the city will make more money to grow our services. We can achieve a functionally zero vacancy rate in under 10 years. And yes, we can use stimulus to cut taxes.
- Make every policy, including education, about higher incomes
- We can lift wages by creating more competition for workers. We can strengthen the workforce with free community college and two regional career and technical high schools that every other public school feeds. We can attract new companies by halving the personal property tax, offering a low-cost public wi-fi option, and building smarter transit.
- Increase homeownership
- With Biden pushing for nearly every incentive Baltimore has wanted to do but couldn’t before afford (first-time home buyer assistance; help to close appraisal gaps; assistance with energy-efficient homes; and more), our job in Baltimore is simple and small: (1) help families stay in their homes — whether they rent or own; (2) make monthly payments more affordable with lower water and tax bills; and (3) make higher-income neighborhoods more accessible with fair property taxes across the city.
- Lift police morale
- Law enforcement in a city with a murder rate nearing 60 per 100,000 people is its own trauma. And it is dangerous to have police officers doing their jobs with low morale. We can reform policing and support officer morale at the same time.
Even before I am your delegate, I am already doing this work—at every level. As your delegate, I will keep doing this work, fund it for others, and hold leaders accountable for bold strides at every level.
For our safety, we have to do it. If we do, we will win back every one of the 27,000 residents we lost in the last five years, and countless more.
Thanking God for my family, especially this month.