Better. Safer. Stronger.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake and DPW Director Rudy Chow

Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review, Issue #204

Since my time as city council president, and now as mayor, my guiding mantra for Baltimore City has been “Better. Safer. Stronger.” I believe that Baltimore is steadily becoming a better, safer, stronger city.

In our work to make Baltimore better, we must keep an eye on our aging infrastructure. Most pipes in the city are more than 50 years old, and many are 80 years or older—well-beyond their intended lifespan. Many private property owners may not realize that the pipes connecting their homes to the public water and sewer mains are aging as well. While the DPW has an aggressive plan to replace 40 miles of public water mains each year, private homeowners are responsible for the pipes on their side of these service lines. That means that property owners must pay to have their pipes fixed if they break—repairs that can cost thousands of dollars.

In order to give citizens a way to protect themselves against unexpected costs, the City has partnered with HomeServe USA to offer very low-cost emergency repair service plans—similar to the type of warranty you might purchase for an appliance—to Baltimore City property owners.
The contracts are being offered on a strictly voluntary basis. Additionally, billing & sign up will be handled directly by HomeServe—the cost of the service will never appear on any City water bill, and the City will never receive any proceeds from customer subscriptions. For more information, see the official press release.

Baltimore is also becoming safer, but there has been a lot of debate about the curfew legislation passed earlier this week. Some have argued we should not enact a curfew, but instead focus on providing more services for our young people as a means to keep them safe and off the streets. I want to be clear that this is not an either/or proposition.

When children are on the streets late at night without proper supervision, they are more likely to become either the victims or the perpetrators of violent crime. Not only as mayor, but as a mother, I am NOT willing to take that gamble. Our young people are too precious, and many of them are crying out for help.

We have to continue providing resources to assist young people—my administration is working to open more new rec centers and expanded programming; we provide a robust summer jobs program; and our city is constructing the first new schools Baltimore has seen in a generation, thanks to the historic billion-dollar investment in school construction funds that we secured.

But we also have to acknowledge that, despite these efforts, there are some young people who need assistance that a new rec center or summer job cannot provide. Often, these kids’ home lives are in crisis, and being out on the street is a cry for help! We need to make sure that our youth-in-need can be connected with the support that they and their families require.

This summer my administration will open a year-round connection center to provide a safe place for young people to be taken off the streets and out of harm’s way. The center will offer wrap-around services to assist those young people who have fallen through the cracks.

Let me emphasize that this IS NOT criminal enforcement by the Baltimore Police Department, and children will not be entered into the criminal justice system for merely violating curfew. This is about taking them out of harm’s way before their being on the street becomes a law enforcement concern and making sure they have a safe place to get the help they need.

On a final note, it is up to all of us to raise our voices to continue building a stronger Baltimore. Primary elections are fast approaching, and in Baltimore, we can take advantage of Early Voting to cast our vote at our convenience. Don’t wait until the last minute and miss out on this powerful opportunity to show up and make your voice heard for a stronger Baltimore.

Early Voting will take place every day from Thursday, June 12 through Thursday, June 19, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. With Early Voting, you can vote on any one of these eight voting days, at any of the six early voting centers listed below—all of which are accessible to voters with disabilities.

  • Public Safety Training Facility, 3500 W. Northern Parkway
  • St. Brigid’s Parish Center, 900 S. East Avenue
  • Maritime Industries Academy High, 5001 Sinclair Lane, Rear Entrance
  • The League for People with Disabilities, 1111 East Coldspring Lane
  • Edmondson Westside High School, 501 Athol Avenue
  • University of Maryland Baltimore, 621 W. Lombard Street, 2nd Floor

For more information about Early Voting, visit

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my website or by email at You can also follow the Mayor’s Office and be a part of the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.


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