Former residents of the Poppleton neighborhood of Baltimore filed a Complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing against Baltimore City.
According to a report published in NPR, the administrative complaint filed against the city, its Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore City Council alleges that the city violated the federal Fair Housing Act.
That federal law prohibits individuals from being discriminated against when renting or buying a home, seeking a mortgage, housing assistance and other such activities, according to HUD. Individuals are protected against discrimination of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, including gender identity and sexual orientation, familial status and disabilities.
The complaint specifically suggests that Baltimore City’s redevelopment policies since 1975 violated the federal law because it displaced Black residents of the Poppleton neighborhood and forced them to relocate to more ‘deeply segregated’ communities across Baltimore City and beyond.
More than 350 properties were conveyed and 167 properties were seized by Baltimore City under eminent domain, attorneys argued. At the time, 134 of those properties seized by eminent domain were occupied by Black families, the complaint alleges.
Organizers laid out recommendations for Baltimore City in the complaint which included monetary compensation for all displaced renters and homeowners who have left the neighborhood since 2005, the ability for displaced residents to return, a relocation fund for those who want to return, and a change in Baltimore City’s eminent domain policies among other recommendations.
The developer told The Baltimore Beat that the project failed to happen because of The Great Recession and housing market collapse in 2007. But the original idea was to turn Poppleton into “Black Wall Street,” Dan Bythewood told The Baltimore Beat.
In 2019, embattled real estate developer La Cite changed its plans and increased the percentage of rental housing proposed at market rate prices.
“There is no evidence to suggest that La Cite will be developing any units affordable to Black legacy Poppleton residents,” according to the Complaint. “These delays paired with the City’s premature seizures have caused the displacement of Poppleton residents who then struggled to find affordable housing.”
On February 22, 2023, the New York Law Journal will publish my article, “Urban Renewal, an Assault on Black Neighborhoods.” The article will discuss the abusive use of the power of eminent domain and its effect on black neighborhoods.