Tag: takoma park

Abandoned Homes: A Growing Problem in Our Community

Abandoned Homes: A Growing Problem in Our Community

The Great Recession may be over, but the aftermath is still being felt in communities all across the country. Here in Montgomery County, we have more than 400 abandoned properties that continue to drive down nearby home values and attract neighborhood crime.

Abandoned homes are a magnet for dangerous criminal activities, such as squatting, arson and defacement. Unused houses are nearly twice as likely than occupied houses to generate calls for fire or police service, and they lower neighboring property values by as much as 10%. Not only are abandoned houses an eyesore, they pose a serious public safety risk and deter new families from purchasing homes in our county.

I am introducing legislation to reduce the number of abandoned homes and make our community safer. My bill will require unoccupied homeowners to register with the county, and will increase inspections and implement graduated fees for unmaintained homes. Enacting this bill could deter homeowners from leaving properties unused and unkempt for long periods of time, and gives absentee owners incentives to repair and then to sell, rent, or occupy their property.

Here are the basic guidelines of my proposal:

      • Establish a vacant property registration
      • Require an initial inspection within a month of registering.
      • Allow homeowners 30 days to fix any code violations.
      • Charge any subsequent inspections performed by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs(DHCA) to the homeowner using a graduated fee schedule (similar to the False Alarm Response Fee Schedule).

Properties that are no longer in use are more than just a symptom of macroeconomic forces  — their links to crime and sinking property values  make them unique problems in and of themselves.  In order to stave off community decline and disinvestment, we have to act now.

If you know of any abandoned properties in your community, I am asking you to please send your photos and locations to councilmember.hucker@mongtomerycountymd.gov. Together, we will keep our community safe and strong.

Big Victory on Early Voting

Big Victory on Early Voting

We did it. The State Board of Elections approved Montgomery County’s revised early voting plan. The new plan reversed the earlier decision by the GOP majority to eliminate early voting locations in some of our most diverse and vibrant communities and guarantees that all of our residents will have an opportunity to freely exercise their right to vote. Will you please chip in today so I can continue the fight to preserve voting rights for all Montgomery County residents?

I’m proud of everyone in Maryland who joined me and leapt into action to fight the misguided decision to eliminate early voting in East County and Bethesda, potentially disenfranchising thousands of voters. You were not silent when Republicans threatened to make it harder than ever to vote. You wrote letters, you signed petitions, you made phone calls, you attended rallies and you spoke to your neighbors and friends about why this issue is so important to our democracy.

This is your victory.

But I am not satisfied with this win. In Maryland and in Montgomery County, we should be clearing the way for more people to vote, not putting up more roadblocks. That’s why I was an original cosponsor of the early voting legislation in Annapolis, advocated for expanding early voting on Sundays and voted for legislation adding same-day voter registration. And that’s why I’m pushing for state legislation to allow automatic voter registration.

And I will keep fighting to make voting easier. With a population greater than six states and the District of Columbia, I firmly believe that having only nine early voting centers is insufficient and does not serve the voters of our County well. As soon as the General Assembly session begins in January, I will be pushing to increase the number of early voting locations.  Early voting reduces lines and gives more citizens a chance to be heard — especially those with work or family obligations that make it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day. And many of our communities – including Takoma Park – deserve their own early voting location.

We share the same values when it comes to voting: As an American your voice counts. And no matter what you look like, how much money you have or where you come from you have the right to vote. I will never stop fighting to put these values into action.

This was a big win in the effort to make voting easier for all citizens. Please pitch in today so we can continue this fight.

Thanks,

Tom