“Tax Broke” is a TRNN investigative project focused on the use of tax break and subsidies stimulate growth in a city that continues to lose population and struggle with poverty. The centerpiece of the project is an hour-long documentary. However, as information comes to light about the cost, fairness, and political economy which fuels this system, TRNN will publish updates in the form of print pieces and podcasts.

ACLU of Maryland housing attorney Barbara Samuels joins this podcast to explain why Baltimore is critical to the growth of affordable housing and what has to happen to make it work as City Council debates a new inclusionary housing law.

Studio/Post-Production: Stephen Janis


Transcript

Taya Graham:  Hello, my name is Taya Graham, and I’m an investigative reporter for The Real News Network. Today will be the first installment of our series called Tax Broke. It’s a five-year exploration of our hometown Baltimore’s policy of doling out tax breaks to developers to stimulate growth. And the centerpiece of the work is a documentary by the same name, which we have screened and we will publish next year.

The essence of our findings is that the city of Baltimore has used a variety of tax breaks intended to stimulate growth, but has done far less to track their effectiveness or make the process transparent to account for them. We also found that this idea has primarily benefited wealthy neighborhoods, while leaving poorer communities neglected. It has, in a sense, heightened the inequality of an already unequal city.

But our 60-minute film only scratches the surface of this topic. But one important underlying question which our film raises is, ultimately, how to build affordable housing as efficiently and fairly as possible. How do we close the ever-widening gap between the demand for affordable homes and our seeming preference for luxury projects? This is a dilemma we will continue to report on to complement the film, which we hope will be a jumping off point for a broader discussion. We will do this through podcast, print pieces, and additional screenings with public discussion.

But today our topic is twofold: One, why is it so hard for the city government to generate affordable housing? And two, when it tries, why is it often embroiled in dissent and controversy? And that question we will examine through the lens of an Inclusionary Housing bill our city council is currently considering, which has been contentious, to say the least.

To do this, I’m joined by colleagues Stephen Janis and Jayne Miller, who, of course, worked together with me on this documentary. But we also have a special guest who has been instrumental in the fight for affordable housing. Her name is Barbara Samuels, and she was formerly the managing attorney of the ACLU Maryland Housing Program, and has been lead counsel in multiple cases, challenging governmental housing that fosters segregation, including the landmark public housing desegregation case Thompson v HUD. Barbara was also named one of Maryland’s top 25 Human Rights and Justice Champions by the Legal Aid Bureau in 2011. Barbara, Stephen, Jayne, thank you so much for joining me.

So Stephen, let me start out with you first, just give us a little background of the documentary, Tax Broke, how it breaks down this issue, and some of our conclusions.

Stephen Janis:  I think one of the things that we wanted to achieve with the documentary is something that is missing from some of the contemporary reporting about these tax breaks, which is the history that got us where we are today. Because part of the problem is these tax break deals come up, as Jayne always talks about, in a fragmented way, and we want to link some of the broader ideas about Baltimore, like its legalized segregation, and the fact that our tax rate is twice the surrounding counties, and look at how that history tangled together to create this weird world where the poorest city in the state actually pays people to develop, while the surrounding jurisdictions actually get paid to develop. So the point was just to link the dots so there was a way to consider everything and a way for the public to look at it and say, okay, at least I understand why we’re here now. And then also, there was an inventory of trying to calculate the number, which, of course, Jayne, was not very easy, correct?

Jayne Miller:  We’re still doing that.

Stephen Janis:  We’re still doing that.

Jayne Miller:  In other words, we have a lot of work to do here.

Stephen Janis:  Just so people know, just for reference, we’re going to publish it early next year, but right now, we’re just continuing to have discussions because there’s been so many developments that we need to go over.

Taya Graham:  Well, Jayne, you decided to expand our coverage beyond just the documentary. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jayne Miller:  Well, I think that one of the questions that the documentary raises, a main question the documentary raises is, why are we subsidizing, and what are we subsidizing for? We have, on one hand, a very profound crisis of affordability, affordable housing. And on the other hand, we have highly subsidized, affluent communities that have been built over the past 20 years with a lot of tax subsidy, a lot of tax subsidy. And today, the greatest tax subsidy for the conversion of apartment buildings and new apartment buildings, et cetera, it goes to those that are being built in the most affluent communities. So these are the main questions, I think, that it really raises. It’s all about, it’s an equity question, it’s an equality question, and it’s an efficiency question, too. We don’t have money coming, it doesn’t grow on trees. Is this the best way to use city resources and city revenues?

Taya Graham:  Well, Barbara, you’ve been involved in the fight for affordable housing in Baltimore. I guess, I have to ask, why is it so hard to build? And how much affordable housing is actually needed in our city?

Barbara Samuels:  So the need is tremendous, and the number is probably something along the lines of 50,000 units and 70,000 in the region. But those numbers are almost so large that they become meaningless and deter us, sometimes, from getting started at all. It takes a lot of different tools to get there. There is no panacea, there’s no one thing that gets us there. And it is not easy to build affordable housing. It’s not that easy to build housing in this country. There is a really profound, and growing, housing shortage all over the country, not only for the poorest people, but increasingly that has moved up the income ladder to where it’s really being felt by middle income people, especially millennials, and is really putting this issue of housing on the political map now that it’s reaching into, frankly, middle-class white people.

But in the city, Baltimore City and other cities as well, but particularly Baltimore, affordable housing is inextricably tied up with our racial history. Because affordable housing, initially, public housing constructions, slum clearance, which were tied together, urban renewal, which was tied together, were all some of the tools that we used to create a segregated city in the 20th century. We were not spatially segregated at the turn of the century, we were socially segregated, and economically, but not spatially segregated.

Stephen Janis:  So you’re saying that before that law was passed, there were actually more integrated neighborhoods in Baltimore?

Barbara Samuels:  The pattern in Baltimore before that was that the more affluent people lived on the wider streets, the avenues with the bigger houses. The workers lived on the smaller streets in between. And then in the alley houses were mostly occupied by African Americans.

Stephen Janis:  Oh, okay. That’s really interesting.

Barbara Samuels:  And everybody had to live sort of close to the city center and to where the jobs were because they were walking or taking public transit. So Baltimore and other cities actually created this pattern of residential segregation that, during the 20th century, as we were all growing up, we just took as the natural order of things, was actually created by, in large part, public policy, but also private discriminatory practices in the lending industry. And as the appraisal industry has gotten a lot of recent attention, and even in the individual decisions of people just like us.

Jayne Miller:  Barbara, you talked about the difficulty in building housing generally at, really, all income levels. But if you could talk about the specific challenges of building affordable housing to meet the need in that middle income group.

Barbara Samuels:  Well, for the middle income group, the issue is not so much that you need public money and public subsidy to build for that group. What you really need is land that is zoned for denser housing. If you can put more units on an acre, you can produce housing that will be affordable to middle income people. However, one of those policies that created the segregated landscape was the policy decisions to zone most of our metropolitan areas, not just the suburbs, but the city as well, for single family housing, one house per one lot, an extremely inefficient and expensive way to develop compared to if you’re putting four units or 10 units, not even talking about 50 units here.

Jayne Miller:  When you think about it, you look around Baltimore, the apartment development is all going on in the White L. That’s what it is. The north-south corridor along 83 and also along the waterfront. We don’t see apartment development going on in most other parts of the city. Now, is that because of zoning?

Barbara Samuels:  That is in large part because of zoning. And we don’t see it in all of the White L either. Mount Washington, Roland Park, Guilford, those most affluent neighborhoods in North Baltimore were actually down zoned at the last comprehensive rezoning.

Stephen Janis:  When was that? When was that done?

Barbara Samuels:  That was the planned Baltimore.

Stephen Janis:  Because it’s interesting because, for people who don’t know Baltimore, Roland Park is sort of one of the first suburbs, although it’s part of the city, and it does have some apartment buildings. But you’re saying that was part of the past. No one could go into Roland Park right now and build an apartment building?

Barbara Samuels:  Correct.

Stephen Janis:  Wow.

Barbara Samuels:  Correct. Roland Park’s an interesting tale, because we talk about how we pioneered racial zoning. But Roland Park also was a pioneer in the use of restrictive covenants. And the developer of Roland Park actually was a leading real estate developer in the country in the 1920s, and went around proselytizing with other “real estate men” that housing should be developed with these restrictive covenants.

Stephen Janis:  Which were, the restrictive covenants, said you couldn’t live there if you were African American, Jewish, right? Is that what it was?

Barbara Samuels:  If you were African American, and sometimes Jewish, sometimes that was sort of an unspoken.

Stephen Janis:  I see. Okay.

Jayne Miller:  What is the ideal structure in terms of meeting the need for affordable housing? Is it an apartment building? Is it higher density attached housing, like the famous row houses that we have? What is the ideal in terms of really providing an additional supply of affordable housing?

Barbara Samuels:  So the ideal structure type, density is critical, but the ideal structure type depends on meeting different housing needs. So for a family with children, you need larger units with two or usually three bedrooms. And what we’re building in this city now, to the extent we’re building, is very heavily weighted towards studios and one bedrooms. So it really becomes difficult for families with kids to find decent, quality housing, especially in safe neighborhoods, that are family sized. We have a very, what I would call, family unfriendly housing policy. Now, you can build family friendly housing even in high density, high-rise situations. The city of Vancouver is famous for that, and it doesn’t involve only building three bedroom units. It involves building schools where you’re near downtown, where these high rises are. Parks that are particularly geared towards children, lots of amenities. We have to be one of the most family unfriendly cities in the country.

Taya Graham:  So Barbara, there’s this big middle part that seems to be missing between this history of segregation and then these subsidies that our city council is handing out. Can you talk a little bit about that portion of our history?

Barbara Samuels:  So Baltimore actually has more subsidized housing than most other cities its size. And it has historically had between 65% and 75% of all of the capital A affordable housing in the region. And that is because Baltimore has used affordable housing both as a tool for containing the Black population, which then made disinvestment in those areas possible. And that has been coupled with exclusion of affordable housing from other areas. But we aggressively used all the available federal housing programs to essentially oversaturate parts of the city, basically the Black neighborhoods of the city, with subsidized housing to the point where it was having a detrimental effect on the neighborhoods and causing skyrocketing poverty rates of 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% in some areas. As people realized that that was not sustainable, but there was still a need for more affordable housing, we ran into the racial politics.

The answer would be, well, let’s build affordable housing all over the city and all over the region. But as soon as you try to do that, you run into NIMBYism. And so the city has essentially done nothing to develop affordable housing in other parts of the city, whether the White L or Northeast Baltimore, whatever, except when they have been forced to do so by a court order. And the same is true for the region. And the fact that the region has excluded affordable housing means that, as the federal judge said in our case, the city became an island reservation for the poor of an entire region.

Stephen Janis:  Wow. I’m starting to realize that the documentary should have just been a fog of war documentary with Barbara Samuels just talking about what she went through. We may have made a mistake there. But I guess we’ll try to compensate with the podcast.

Jayne Miller:  Never too late to correct.

Barbara Samuels:  We can move up to the present.

Jayne Miller:  Just to clarify, the subsidized housing you’re talking about, which for all of us who’ve been around for a while, we’re talking about these high-rise public housing buildings, some low-rise developments that were, you’re right, they were everywhere in this city up until the Hope Six program of the mid 1990s.

Barbara Samuels:  Well, they were not everywhere, because –

Jayne Miller:  Well, true, you’re right. They weren’t everywhere. They were concentrated in certain East and West Baltimore neighborhoods. That is correct.

Barbara Samuels:  And so the city’s policy now is not to do that anymore, because everybody realized that’s not sustainable. So mixed income housing is our official policy, and you see that in things like the Perkins redevelopment. But we practice mixed income housing only in poor areas. We do not practice mixed income housing in the more affluent areas. We have a policy, or we had a policy, that said we would do that and that was the 2007 Inclusionary Housing Bill, which we never properly implemented, and only 37 units were ever built. And at the same time, the city decided at some point that the best economic development strategy, given de-industrialization, given even the flight of corporate offices like USF&G and so on, that what Baltimore could do was to build housing for people with, as they said, pocketbooks. And you could then not only get the tax base off of those developments, in theory, but also the state and local income taxes off of that.

Stephen Janis:  Right. And it’s interesting you mentioned the Exclusionary Housing Bill, which lapsed. We spoke to David Rusk who was on the committee to fashion that bill. And I want to play a little bit about what he said about what happened, because he basically characterized what happened as a fraud perpetrated on the people of the city. Let’s listen to that quickly, and when we come back, Taya has a question for you.

[AUDIO CLIP BEGINS]

David Rusk:  I was a member, a voting member of a 13-member task force on Inclusionary Housing appointed by the city council. And we came up with a study and a set of proposals and a draft legislation that was vastly different from the facade that was adopted ultimately by the city council because the city housing agencies, planning agencies, dug in their heels and just really would not make any significant change. So even though that law was adopted in 2007, it was not the law that had been proposed by a broad-based citizen and industry group.

[AUDIO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:  So Barbara, I have to ask, what are your thoughts on what Mr. Rusk just said about the previous Inclusionary Housing bill?

Barbara Samuels:  Well, I think that that’s right, but as weak as the bill was rendered in the legislative process, it wasn’t as bad as the way it was implemented by the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development. Because what happened was they adopted a formula for giving waivers to developers that is not grounded in the language of the statute itself. They basically made it up. And under that formula, the waivers were pretty much automatic.

Stephen Janis:  That’s what we were saying. There was like a machine you could go and put a dollar in and get a waiver is basically what… Because I remember reporting on it, every project got a waiver. It seemed like everyone got a waiver.

Barbara Samuels:  Right. And that law was only in effect for projects that received major public subsidy or rezoning. So things like, talk about major public subsidies, Port Covington, Harbor Point, major public subsidies. But the way the Department of Housing interpreted the bill, that whole subsidy, the TIF subsidy and all the other subsidies that they got, none of that was considered in deciding whether it was feasible to build or set aside affordable housing as part of that development. It was like an entitlement for developers that was all for the market rate portion. So if the entire subsidy is going just for the market rate units under that formula, and the developer is not supposed to pay anything out of pocket, of course it’s not feasible to build the affordable units, unless the city comes up with all of the money on top of the TIF or whatever that they’ve already put into the project. The city didn’t have the money to do that, and that probably wouldn’t be terribly advisable, in any event.

Jayne Miller:  So we have this bill now, which is the replacement of the bill for the 2007 bill, which I’ll just give, it would require developers to provide 10% affordable units if they got major subsidy, public subsidy, and it would be 10% units for people, 60% of area median income. And I know that the city has come back and said, no, it has to be an additional subsidy of 15%, and it has to be split between 60% AMI and 80% AMI. But my broader question about this is, Inclusionary Housing is just a piece of this puzzle, it’s not the whole puzzle.

Barbara Samuels:  That’s right. So there’s a strong coalition of upwards of 25 groups that have been working with Councilwoman Odette Ramos on amendments to shaping the bill that she filed in February. And I’m a volunteer with that coalition. One of the things that we’ve been saying is, this is not a panacea, this will not meet all of the housing needs in the city, but we cannot have an equitable development strategy for Baltimore without Inclusionary Housing. Inclusionary Housing is not just about producing affordable units, it’s about producing inclusion and equity and racial justice. And that’s as important a part of the bill as the affordable requirements are.

But the bill is, there are something like a thousand Inclusionary Housing policies in cities and counties and even small towns across the country. This is not one of the more radical of them. It’s quite moderate, really, in its requirements. You get a lot of pushback in Baltimore that this is not San Francisco or Boston or DC. This is a weak market. And so what we’ve tried to emphasize in our advocacy around this bill is, number one, no more waivers, because we cannot go through another 14 years with only 37 units produced.

So no more waivers. It’s critical that we serve families at or below 60% of area median income, which is about $62,000 for a family of three. That serves the working people that really hold the city together. But it also puts the housing within reach of much lower income people who have vouchers, because they can use the rent set at 60% of what’s called AMI, allows them to be able to afford to rent with the vouchers. And to a certain extent, there is a trading off of fewer units than under the 2007 law, which required 20% affordability. But the trade off is for no more waivers, that is really an essential point that I can’t emphasize enough.

Taya Graham:  I just have to ask the question. It seems like it makes sense to get rid of these waivers, and it seems like it’s an obvious need for our residents to have affordable housing. What’s holding our city council members back from allowing it to be built?

Jayne Miller:  That’s a really good question. Back in 2007, this was very controversial. There was a lot of pushback. Here we are today at the end of 2022, with a bill that’s kind of the replacement of it, but we have the same thing. We have a contentious, controversial, I assume this is going to get more contentious as we go forward over this. And that’s a good question, what causes this to become so contentious?

Barbara Samuels:  It’s contentious because the business and development community opposes it. And as with many things, their threat is, if we have to comply, we’ll take our marbles and go play someplace else. If we don’t get this huge TIF to Under Armor, they won’t expand here. Of course, they didn’t expand anyway.

Stephen Janis:  But just so people know, they are already getting a tax subsidy before they’re asked to build this Inclusionary Housing, correct?

Barbara Samuels:  Correct. Now, in 2007, when the bill was passed, we didn’t have as many tax subsidies as we have today. After the 2007 bill was passed, the city council passed something called the High Performance Market Rate Rental Tax Credit, which I think you talk a little bit about in the –

Stephen Janis:  Yes. Oh yeah.

Barbara Samuels:  – In the documentary. And that tax credit was passed after the Inclusionary Housing law, so it contemplated that there would be compliance with the law, 20% affordable, and that the developers would get that subsidy for the affordable part as well as the market rate part of the development. What ended up happening, though, was that the housing department gave waivers to the developers for the affordable part. They still collected the tax credit for what would’ve been the 20% that would’ve been affordable. But they just got all these tax credits for 100% luxury buildings. And what we ended up with was this huge subsidy for segregation in the city.

Jayne Miller:  And we wonder why we are where we are with –

Barbara Samuels:  It really has exacerbated the inequality in Baltimore, where we’re characterized by some wealthy people and some wealthy areas of the city. And then on one hand, some desperately poor neighborhoods and very poor people in other neighborhoods, and the people in the middle essentially leaving.

Stephen Janis:  Does that argument hold water? That, we’re already giving a tax break, and then we’re saying, well, just in exchange for this tax break, build a little bit of Inclusionary Housing, and they’re saying we’re just going to go somewhere else. But is it really infeasible with all the tax breaks they are getting to build some percentage of affordable housing? Is that really infeasible?

Barbara Samuels:  We don’t think so. They’ll come up with their financial analysis based on information that is really only in their possession.

Jayne Miller:  I’ve heard that before.

Barbara Samuels:  But if you’re a local regional developer, it’s not like you can just go and build your big apartment building in Baltimore County or in Arundel County or Howard County. They have such restrictive zoning in those places that there are very few places that you can do that. Towson, maybe.

Stephen Janis:  Maybe earlier, but now it’s pretty full up there.

Barbara Samuels:  That’s correct. And Columbia, Howard County, well, most of Howard County is very low zoning, agricultural zoning, as is two thirds of Baltimore County. And they have a plan to densify Columbia, but it’s not like there’s a lot of land designated for high density housing in Columbia. So these local companies, I don’t know where they would go. I really don’t think there would be anywhere for them to go locally. National developers, maybe they could go somewhere else. But there are so many other parts of the country that are also very restrictive, and in some ways more restrictive in their zoning than Baltimore City.

Stephen Janis:  Wouldn’t Baltimore be the ideal place to build affordable housing, given that people are leaving, that same argument would make it the best place to build it, because we could do some density here?

Barbara Samuels:  Well, every place is a good place to build affordable housing, because families have different needs. And also, we have decentralized jobs, but we have not decentralized the affordable housing for the workers in those jobs. You have people, middle income people, who have to commute from Essex to Hunt Valley every day to work because Hunt Valley is unaffordable, even though it has the light rail there. Well, think about how much time that person spends driving around the Beltway from Essex to Hunt Valley for a commute every day, and how that detracts from their quality of life. So what we need is to build affordable housing everywhere. And we definitely need to densify. Aside from the inefficiencies of this low density single family housing, it’s very bad environmentally, because, yes, it leads to sprawl, but it also leads to a lot more vehicle miles traveled, creating pollution on the highways and whatnot. People who live in dense housing have a smaller environmental footprint than people who live in single family detached houses.

Taya Graham:  So before we go any further, I feel like it’s my responsibility to ask you about this landmark case, because I think it’s part of the history of segregation in our city and the fight for affordable housing and fair housing, and that’s the Thompson v HUD case. You were the lead attorney on this. Can you talk a little bit about the case itself?

Barbara Samuels:  Sure. And there were other lead attorneys that worked with me, both with our pro bono counsel and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and so on. So it was very much a team effort over many, many years. One thing that has come from that case that has been of lasting significance is that Baltimore has now the largest what’s called housing mobility program in the country. And it is a model for cities around the country and also for federal legislation. And what I mean by that, housing mobility, is… The biggest subsidized housing program we have, especially the one that reaches the lowest income people, is the voucher program. But when a person gets a voucher, they have to just go out and look for housing on their own. And in many places in the country, people talk about, well, I was homeless, I got a voucher, but I could never find a place to use it. I waited 10 years, I couldn’t find a place to use it, because there is a shortage of housing and affordable housing.

Here in Baltimore, over 5,500 people, families, have gotten vouchers through the Thompson case and have been able to use those vouchers to secure housing for their families. And it mostly serves families with children. Quality housing in safe neighborhoods, healthier housing. The kids with asthma, when they live in the city, have a lower asthma rate when they move through this voucher program.

And so families with vouchers are less segregated now in the Baltimore region than they are in almost any other part of the country. And also the program has a 90% rate of being able to successfully lease up the clients with the voucher. Whereas in some cities, the housing authorities have to issue four vouchers for every one that might be lucky enough to find a place to use it. But it’s a simple formula, it’s people with a voucher getting assistance to find housing. That’s the kind of counseling that is provided, and that’s the kind of assistance that is really needed to make the housing voucher program live up to its potential. And it has great potential. It’s an evidence-based program that reduces homelessness and improves health and improves educational outcomes.

Jayne Miller:  Well, I think that overall, one of the things that we’ve really been looking at is the cost to subsidize development in Baltimore, which is something very difficult to evaluate because the system is so completely nontransparent. But is there… I don’t want to say all subsidy is bad, obviously. So what is the most effective way to subsidize development?

Barbara Samuels:  There are actually two things tied up in that. One is subsidizing housing to meet people’s needs. The other is subsidizing development, economic development, community development. Those are not the same thing. And sometimes by trying to get a twofer, we actually mess it all up. I think right now one of the most efficient ways to develop affordable housing is to piggyback on the market rate development that is happening with these big subsidies. Because even if we provide additional subsidy for the affordable units, it will be far less than the cost of a purpose-built, 100% affordable housing unit, which is very expensive to build, in part because you’re very limited in where you can build it, and you have loads of complex financing and red tape that you have to work through. So for example, at the Inclusionary Housing hearing the other day, the Housing Department talked about providing an additional 15% subsidy for inclusionary units, 15% tax credit. On top of the tax credits they get now.

Now, while it’s galling to think about providing yet more subsidy, the amount that they talked about, according to the finance department, was $1 million a year or $10 million over 10 years, and would produce something close to 350 units a year, which comes out to something like $28,000 a unit. That is a very cheap way to build housing, very inexpensive, i.e. an efficient way to build housing and to make use of the subsidy we’re already providing for the market rate housing. There’s a huge question as to whether we should be subsidizing market rate housing, but if we’re doing it, we might as well be getting affordable housing out of the bargain. That’s kind of like the least of what is owed for the public investment that is going into these subsidies.

Stephen Janis:  Do you think there’s any way they could change the bill in the way they did and start writing tons of waivers? Let’s say everyone bites the bill and says, let’s give them the extra 15%, because we’re going to get that many units. Do you think then the waiver writing is going to start?

Barbara Samuels:  I think all kinds of mischief happens in the legislative process. Most of the time not out in the open. Only two developers testified at the city council hearing on this. You know who is meeting with legislators in backrooms, and that’s where the action is really happening. So yes, that could absolutely happen. I think there will be a bill. For one thing, the city committed to the federal government in its Fair Housing Action Plan, which is required in order to get federal funding, that it would renew and strengthen its Inclusionary Housing law. And so the fact that it allowed it to lapse instead is actually a violation, puts them in violation of their commitments and puts their funding at risk.

So I do think there will be a bill. But could all kinds of mischief happen behind the scenes? Absolutely. And that’s why we’re encouraging people to come to city council on Monday, Dec. 12 at 5:00 PM when the work session happens on the bill, and that’s when they start voting on all the amendments. That’s where a lot of the decisions are being made. A lot of times the deal is cut before they get to the second and third reader. And so what we’re telling people is to come. You can’t testify, but come and keep your eyes on the council.

Taya Graham:  So we are going to continue this discussion, not just on the history of affordable and fair housing in our city, Baltimore, but on its future. And I just want to thank Barbara Samuels so much for joining us and sharing her insights and her experience in the fight for fair housing in Baltimore. Barbara, thank you for joining us today.

Barbara Samuels:  Well, thank you for covering this. This is really important and timely.

Taya Graham:  And of course, I have to thank intrepid reporters Jayne Miller and Stephen Janis for continuing to go down this rabbit hole with me. Thank you both for joining me.

Jayne Miller:  It is a rabbit hole. It’s a rabbit hole to try to account for it. That’s what we’re trying to do, is, let’s account for it.

Stephen Janis:  I just want to say it’s been fascinating to just sit here and listen to Barbara talk about this stuff.

Jayne Miller:  Absolutely.

Stephen Janis:  Fill these blanks.

Jayne Miller:  Tremendous experience.

Stephen Janis:  She’s a treasure.

Jayne Miller:  On this. Absolutely.

Stephen Janis:  …City of Baltimore. And I really appreciate her, and Jayne too, but really, wow. So that was… Thank you, Taya, appreciate it.

Taya Graham:  And I want to thank everyone for listening. If you would like to reach out to us, please feel free to comment on The Real News Real Baltimore page. Also, if you’d like to try to set up a screening of Tax Broke in your community, contact us on The Real News Real Baltimore page, or reach out to Stephen Janis at The Real News Network or Taya at The Real News Network. I’m Taya Graham, I’m your host for this podcast. Thank you for joining me.

Stephen Janis

Host & Producer
Stephen Janis is an award winning investigative reporter turned documentary filmmaker. His first feature film, The Friendliest Town was distributed by Gravitas Ventures and won an award of distinction from The Impact Doc Film Festival, and a humanitarian award from The Indie Film Fest. He is the co-host and creator of The Police Accountability Report on The Real News Network, which has received more than 10,000,000 views on YouTube. His work as a reporter has been featured on a variety of national shows including the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, Dead of Night on Investigation Discovery Channel, Relentless on NBC, and Sins of the City on TV One.

He has co-authored several books on policing, corruption, and the root causes of violence including Why Do We Kill: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore and You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond. He is also the co-host of the true crime podcast Land of the Unsolved. Prior to joining The Real News, Janis won three Capital Emmys for investigative series working as an investigative producer for WBFF. Follow him on Twitter.

Taya Graham

Host & Producer
Taya Graham is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered U.S. politics, local government, and the criminal justice system. She is the host of TRNN's "Police Accountability Report," and producer and co-creator of the award-winning podcast "Truth and Reconciliation" on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WYPR. She has written extensively for a variety of publications including the Afro American Newspaper, the oldest black-owned publication in the country, and was a frequent contributor to Morgan State Radio at a historic HBCU. She has also produced two documentaries, including the feature-length film "The Friendliest Town." Although her reporting focuses on the criminal justice system and government accountability, she has provided on the ground coverage of presidential primaries and elections as well as local and state campaigns. Follow her on Twitter.

Jayne Miller

Jayne Miller is the former Chief Investigative Reporter for WBAL-TV in Baltimore.
She was a broadcast journalist for more than 45 years before her retirement in 2022. Her reporting led to changes in legislation, public policy and private industry practices and standards. Jayne is a Penn State Alumni Fellow. Her work earned a duPont-Columbia award, an Edward R. Murrow award, and a National Headliner award. She was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF) in 2022. Jayne lives in Baltimore and is active in civic affairs, serving on the boards of several nonprofits, including Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Leadership Baltimore County, the Canton Community Association, and Citizens Planning and Housing Association. She is now working on podcasting and documentary production. @jemillerbalt