Recent violence in the Reservoir Hill section of Baltimore has brought attention from the city’s housing commissioner, police department and elected officials to Madison Park North Apartments. On Aug. 16 Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano issued a notice of intent to revoke the multi-family dwelling license issued to Tricap Management Inc. TMI controls the 202-unit apartment complex located at 850 West North Avenue which city officials have labeled “an extreme nuisance to the residents and the community.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement on Aug. 17 that “to eradicate crime and blight caused by irresponsible landlords, we will use any and all enforcement tools at our disposal to remove the threat posed to the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of this great City.”

A hearing regarding the property has been scheduled for Sept. 9, to determine if evidence exists to prove activities qualifying as a nuisance under the Property Based Crime Solutions Program are taking place. In 2005, the city took similar actions to revoke the dwelling license of the Pall Mall Apartments on Pimlico Road. The complex was eventually demolished in 2008.

Tracy Jones, a resident at Madison Park, agrees with city officials. “I think that they should do it. I’m ready to move out. I don’t like the environment,” she said. The 33-year-old mother of five said she wants a better life for herself and children, who range in age from 14 to 3, which does not include the violence that surrounds her neighborhood. “I want something better,” said Jones “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but if you put time and effort into trying to relocate, then you can do it.”

According to police spokesman Donny Moses, a shooting was reported on July 1 in the 700 block of W. North Ave., and a stabbing on Aug. 7 on Lenox Avenue; both incidents have been classified as homicides. “We have taken this action to protect law-abiding residents from the deeply rooted, uncontrolled violence at Madison Park North Apartments,” said Graziano in a statement. “With two murders occurring at the property in the past six weeks, this case is so egregious.”

If the dwelling license is eventually revoked, the landlord can no longer operate the complex as an multi-family dwelling. At that point, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will terminate direct rent subsidies to the landlord, forcing residents to relocate.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for City Council President Jack Young, said Young supports efforts to keep the neighborhood safe but is also aware some residents are worried about being displaced. “The decision from housing is just a first step and the hearing hasn’t taken place yet. We are a long way away from padlocking the place and moving people away. It’s just a first step,” Davis said.

He added that Young encourages residents to attend the hearing to air their grievances or to call the president’s office to voice their concerns.

Troy Smith, a barber in a small salon located inside the complex, is not encouraged by the city’s actions. “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s terrible. The only time the politicians and the mayor come around is during election time,” said Smith.

“Violence happens everywhere. If you close this down it’s going to go to the next neighborhood and the next neighborhood.”

Smith believes residents are not the ones responsible for the crime in the area and should not be forced to move. “This is a nice neighborhood, most of the stuff that happens around here is from people that don’t live here. They just come around here and do their dirt, so you can’t blame that on the people that live around here,” he said.

“They closed down the playground and now the kids have to go across there to play where those people call the cops on them, so who are they really trying to protect?”

 

Melissa Jones

Special to the AFRO