Residents Concerned After Luxury Developer Gets Rights to Low Income Housing

Baltimore housing officials have released few details on the plan which calls for redevelopment of Perkins Homes in South Baltimore, offering little reassurance to residents who have lived there for decades

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Story Transcript

Taya Graham: This is Taya Graham, reporting for The Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland. A local developer has remade Perkins Homes, but the residents say they’ve heard this song and dance before and wondering what’s really coming next.

Taaneta Wilson: I felt like I’m not a part of that world. It seems like it’s another world over there.

Taya Graham: From the window of her apartment in Perkins Homes, Taaneta Wilson can see a Baltimore much different from where she lives.

Taaneta Wilson: It’s beautiful. I can lay on my bed and look and dream that one day maybe I’ll have an apartment or something beautiful like that, but that’s all I can do is just look and observe.

Taya Graham: It is a world of gleaming towers and pricey homes, known as Harbor East. But she took us on a tour of her apartment, part of the low-income housing project called Perkins Homes, where the city’s largesse is nowhere to be seen.

Taaneta Wilson: Now here is where I have stuffed foam in and when you close one hole up, they’ll eat right next to it. So I closed that up as well.

Taya Graham: She has battled mice, black mold, and insects. The water damage remains unfixed. She has even experienced harassment from maintenance workers.

Taaneta Wilson: Either they’re trying to get your phone number, they’re trying to have sex with you, they want to charge you for all of these things, so it makes you really not even want to call them.

Taya Graham: But she still has hope and dreams of change. Which is why she along with other residents spoke to The Real News about the just announced plan to revitalize Perkins.

Roxanne: They told us that they found a developer for the property, but they didn’t tell us who. They said that they spoke with the mayor. The mayor’s going to give them a piece of property for them to start building.

Taya Graham: The city said last week and awarded a company called Beatty Development the right to redevelop the 17 acre site, home to over 600 people.

Roxanne: And I am worried because they have said several things, you know, and didn’t keep their word.

Taya Graham: But the news came with few details say residents. A lack of transparency raises more questions than answers.

Wanda: But then I started experiencing in the bathroom, in the kitchen, these big black spots, like in the bathtub, in the corner of the bathtub, which was, they say, mold. They send the maintenance people in, I guess to get rid of it, but what they did was stick some white paint and painted over top of it, so the next couple of weeks as we taking showers and baths, the stuff was coming back. So my breathing and stuff started messing with me more.

Daniel Harris: I believe that they’re trying to take Perkins Homes to make it a better, Harbor area, Fells Point area. I don’t think that they are going to put half of the people that’s living in Perkins Home back into Perkins area.

Taya Graham: Some are concerned about the developer. Beatty was awarded nearly $400 million in tax breaks to build out Harbor Point just down the road. And last year, residents near Old Town Mall expressed concerns about Beatty’s involvement in redeveloping their community.

Catherine Benton-Jones: The Old Town Mall project is one that must and definitely have to include the Old Town community.

Taya Graham: But the most pressing concerns for the residents that we spoke to was the future. Where would they live and what will happen to their homes?

Roxanne: You know, this is round about the third time they done said they was going to tear the property down and then leave us hanging.

Taya Graham: And most important, will the city’s plan include the community that at times seems not just forgotten, but ignored?

Daniel Harris: I feel like it’s a lie that they going to move all of us back in here, and it’s going to be a better place and all that because half of the people not going to be able to come back at all.

Taya Graham: This is Taya Graham and Stephen Janis, reporting for The Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.