Mayor Catherine E. Pugh Delivers State of the City Address


To view the 2017 State of the City Address, click here.


Mr. President, Comptroller, and members of this esteemed body…Thank you for the honor to share with you the state of our city - A CITY ON THE RISE! Mr. President let me begin by thanking you for your partnership in efforts to move Baltimore Forward and to the members of the city council who have worked on behalf of all our the citizens. Let me also thank my leadership team, Chief of Staff Kim Morton, Chief Operating Officer Pete Hammen, Chief of Strategic Alliances Jim Smith, City Solicitor Andre Davis and Chief of Government Relations Karen Stokes.

I begin my address by reminding all of us of the truly GREAT CITY we claim as home. Despite too much national attention for all the wrong reasons, we know that our City - known for its irresistible charm - is so much more. We rightly boast of the finest medical systems in the world; Ours is a college town with truly great institutions of higher learning - where students from nearly every nation on earth come to learn and mature, and where groundbreaking research is conducted and prized. Areas of our City that might have elicited a smirk just a few years ago, are now thriving with new businesses, new restaurants and new residents. Average unemployment continues to hover at 5.8 percent - substantially less than cities to our north and south. We enjoy real estate market value that is the envy of Washingtonians 40 miles from our Inner Harbor, who pay so much more for so much less. Our major league teams, internationally-renowned symphony orchestra, celebrated museums and acclaimed performance theaters draw tens of thousands of tourists and residents from neighboring counties, filling our restaurants and hotels and contributing to economic growth. This is our Baltimore - the City we know and love - a City with problems for sure - but also a City with immense promise and unmitigated determination and spirit.

Yes - ours is also a city with too much tragedy. Too much crime, too much devastation, sadness and loss. Each and every one of those 343 lives lost due to gun violence in 2017 - left behind too many loved ones and the collateral damage done is generational. Too many wounds that will not heal any time soon. I mourn - as all of us do. This need not be! … It must not continue! ... - AND IT WILL NOT!

And then, there is that truly awful trial which exposed the very worst of those who betrayed the public trust. THE evidence made clear that certain members of our police department were themselves criminals. The victimization of our community by those former officers - and the others also implicated - disgraced this police department and disgraced our city. They will now suffer the justice they deserve…The Gun Trace Task Force unit, its renegade culture and the sordid testimony that shocked us every day … will long remind us of one of the most egregious moments in our City’s history…it is a history I vow under my watch never to repeat…We will root out bad police, and we will reform this department…The Baltimore Police Department will become one of the most exemplary departments in this country.

The 163-page report of the Justice Department that followed the turmoil of Freddie Gray’s death, provided a pathway of reform to our police department. The consent decree that we formulated in just 60 days outlines the non-negotiables that will create a new culture - and new approaches - essential to restoring the confidence and trust of the very people our officers are sworn to protect and SERVE. …

The required monitoring team for the Consent Decree is in place and at work. It includes the community engagement and community oversight teams.

At the same time, we are training our police officers and equipping them with the necessary tools to do constitutional policing in a way that respects the rights of every citizen.

Not only must we reform our police department through proper training and a significant cultural realignment, but we must provide the essential resources - new technology and methods to fight crime in an effective and sustainable manner… There must be an inclination to first de-escalate violence and hold those who commit crimes in our community accountable through proper arrest and retention methods that respect the rights of all individuals.

Last year I shared with you our violence reduction plan…I said our police department needed more technology, I reminded you that in 1997, computers were put in police cars in Montgomery and Prince George’s County and surrounding counties … but not here…

I want to the thank the Governor who responded to my request and provided a $2 million dollar grant that will incorporate computers in every police car in Baltimore - we anticipate that the installations will be completed by the end of this month…

In updating our request from the State, on July 10th, I asked the Governor to have the 200 PLUS parole and probation officers assigned to OUR City to work in concert with our police department and to restore the parole and probation officers in all nine of our police districts…

I further requested of the Governor that he permit all State police agencies - to work cooperatively with our police department, thereby enabling our police force to focus on neighborhoods. This request was honored and I am grateful.

AND THEN, I asked the Governor for additional funds to tear down AND REHAB more boarded up houses in our city, in addition to the $75 million which he provided THROUGH PROJECT CORE …these boarded up structures provide a haven for criminals - a hideaway for illegal activity of every kind. This must not continue. …We are awaiting the results of the state budget process …but are confident that we are being heard…

I want to take a moment to thank Bloomberg Philanthropies for honoring my request for $5 million dollars which we received to provide the latest crime fighting technology tools, including 100 more CCTV Cameras, license plate readers and a gunshot detection system…

I want to thank all our Federal partners, the ATF, FBI, Homeland Security, our US Marshals, and others who have partnered with us to reduce violence in our city...

We’ve been asked by the community in light of the intensity of our crime fight - to restore the sky-video surveillance that was being tested by our police department without informing the community in 2016…We believe this tool could prove useful today...I’ve responded to the communities that have requested it to let us examine the proper usage… We will further assess the use of this added capability and continue our dialogue with the community should we decide to implement this program...

Reducing Violence in our city requires more than proper policing.

One year ago I issued a CALL TO ACTION to our community to help me make Baltimore safe…February 2nd, 2017 was our first Call to Action meeting here at City Hall, where I invited some 30 individuals and 90 showed up…they continue to meet today…and we have since conducted listening tours, and resource fairs…Many of those groups remain at the table and come to City Hall twice a month to share their suggestions on how to reduce violence in our City. I can’t call-out all their names but if you are here I ask you to stand…so that I can once again say thank you for your work…Mr. Clayton and his crew of 40 children in East Baltimore who have joined with BE MORE BEAUTIFUL to clean up vacant lots and alleys; Baltimore Brothers patrol neighborhoods throughout the city while providing public safety; Ericka Bridgeford and CEASEFIRE who call on our communities to lay down their guns and respect life; UMAR Boxing, No Hooks Before Books, No boundaries coalition; Ray Kelley, who participates in our One Day Pay for one day’s work initiative ... helping to identify and work with individuals to move them from the drug trade and unemployment to job training, apprenticeships and jobs; Community Mediation, Hugs Don’t Shoot, CFUF, KEYES Develpoment, Living Classrooms and so many more…I want to personally thank Rachel Monroe and the Weinberg Foundation who provided $525,000 in grants to help these groups grow and continue their efforts…Thank you Rachel…

We look forward to soon launching the nationally-recognized ROCA program that will hire locally and be managed locally to focus on 17-24 year-olds at risk of going in the direction that leads to only a dead end. This, we believe, will further support our focus on disrupting the prospect of violence in our neighborhoods and among those most vulnerable. We expect this program will be up and running by July 1. I want to thank the business and philanthropic community for making this program possible.

Safe Streets - a nationally recognized program that utilizes the Cure Violence model to reduce violence - is an evidenced-based model for the country. We are expanding Safe Streets from 4 to 10 sites throughout our city to strengthen the program’s impact on reducing gun violence. Three of the 4 existing programs have achieved more than 365 days without a fatal shooting, and the McElderry Park site recently celebrated more than 500 days with the same distinction.

We are one of 32 cities around the world that participates in a Bloomberg-Harvard initiative to encourage Mayors to think out of the box. As a Bloomberg City, we’re provided with the latest information, best practices and unique tools to help us achieve our goals…

Last October, I discussed with the Bloomberg-Harvard team an idea I had to require putting agencies and commanders from the most violent areas of the city in a room together to see how they might collaborate in ways that had not been tried. …

The initiative began on November 1, 2017. A requirement of my department heads was that they send me only individuals who were empowered to act. We heard from commanders that it typically took as much as 7-14 days to respond to their requests: lights out, alleys unpassable, abandoned cars, vacant houses, code violations in businesses, liquor establishments with faulty licenses….The Bloomberg-Harvard team came to view this initiative a few months ago …and has suggested that it become a case study because they know of no other city that has taken this holistic approach…Our agency responses have gone from 7-14 days to 1.5 to 2 days…

Since last November, we have also seen a significant reduction in violence in every category….This is not a boast, but merely an acknowledgement that this broad-based, innovative approach to addressing the root causes of violence works!

Nearly every day, I attend those meetings that begin at 8 am at police headquarters, and which are followed-up with a 4 p.m. daily check-in…It was in that room on the 7th floor of the Police Department headquarters that I began to observe the workings and interaction of the command staff…THEN-Deputy Commander Darryl De Sousa was among the most critical thinkers participating in this effort, bringing new ideas and suggesting new approaches… In this setting NOW-Commissioner De Sousa…advocated for a new strategic initiative to bring a concentrated focus on the most troubled areas of our city. This too proved effective and has contributed to the positive momentum of violence reduction that we are currently experiencing.

Mr. President, Comptroller and council members - Commissioner De Sousa I believe is the right person at the right time to lead our police department. I have full confidence that he will restore the faith of our community in the work of the Department, in the work of the men and women who come to their positions for the most part with tremendous dedication and an intense desire to do good … and to protect and serve our citizens.

The Commissioner, along with our violence reduction team, recently reported to this City Council the progress of our collaborative efforts that have resulted in the downward trend of violence city-wide.. He furthered updated this council on the results of his collaboration with his command staff that led to defining the seven-pillar strategy that will guide them in leading, reforming and reducing violence. ...Already, his leadership is producing results and I believe his approach - and great personal as well as leadership qualities - will continue to bode well for our city...

No single entity, however, can take credit for the clear progress we are achieving in reducing violence and enabling us to addressing the systemic neglect in our neighborhoods: …Every group and organization, our City agencies, including Recreation and Parks which is keeping open our recreation centers in our most vulnerable areas to 11 pm on Friday nights and till midnight on Saturdays with programs to keep our children engaged.

But you also need to know that we are not satisfied...and we will not rest in our efforts to reduce violence and work to mitigate its lasting effects. … I want to thank Kim Owens, who took to Facebook...to scream to all of us that she could not bear alone the killing of her child in 2015 by gun violence ...she begged us to stop the genocide...but underneath her scream was the call for help...SO I reached out to Kim.. who joined us one Monday for a city council luncheon...and a conversation with me that led to a conversation with Dr. Perman of the University of Maryland...to provide her with the emotional and medical assistance she needs to help her move forward with her life...Thank you Kim and thank you Dr. Perman…both are with us this evening.

Kim’s anguish confronts us with an important question ….If we can take off weeks and

even months after the birth a child...what do we need in terms of time and support to return those left behind ...to some sense of normalcy after the killing of a child or loved one by gun violence in our streets...I’ve asked Dr. Perman to help lead and elevate that discussion so that we may find meaningful solutions to help us address and heal the pain that exists in so many among us who have suffered without enough support to mentally or physically- move beyond their tragedy...The other question we must ask ourselves is what counseling and psychological attention must we pay to our children...in our city...who have watched, heard, witnessed or been impacted by too much violence in our streets...that is a conversation I'm having with our school CEO, Dr. Sonja Santelises...we must be aware of the psychological damage it has, and its potential to undermine the victims’ ability to become whole productive members of our community….

Meaningful - sustainable crime reduction requires sophisticated tools and approaches ...and we are constantly in search of the latest and best ways to reduce violence ...thus our violence reduction plan is always evolving...Soon… we will add additional tools including the Strategic Decision Support Centers beginning in the Eastern and Western Districts which combines technology, data and intelligence to deploy officers to hot spots in real time, this approach is smart policing for the 21st century and will result in safer communities and fewer victims.

The model was adopted from Los Angeles. The Department of Justice is supporting this effort - the very same approach that was successful in reducing violence also in Chicago.

Though I ask you to take note of our progress - I do not ask you to be satisfied. Because I am not. There is no more important element in our strategy and efforts than restoring the respect and confidence of our community in our police officers and creating a culture within the department that has integrity, respect and accountability as NON-NEGOTIABLE requirements of any man or woman who wears the badge.

As we know - respect is something earned each and every day. And the easiest way to earn it --is to give it. …So I ask the Fraternal Order of Police tonight, to help restore that trust and confidence by allowing two appointed Baltimore citizens to sit on police trial boards... let us settle this without legislative action. All of us want the same thing…a safe city and a police department we can all be proud of.

Let me now turn to another of my most important strategic priorities - The Quality of Life of our City. This is what determines the VIABILITY, LIVABILITY AND GROWTH of any city.

Urging, promoting and creating a new era of investment in our neighborhoods and communities is a top priority of this administration...

The two fastest growing populations in Baltimore continue to be 18-34 year-olds and 55 years of age and older…

Growing the 35 to 54 year age group is our city’s challenge...By this age group cities are judged by crime levels AND the quality of their school choices…

In 1997, most of you know that as a condition of receiving $500 million dollars needed in additional funding, the Mayor at that time was instructed that the only way he would receive that money was to turn control of the school system over to the state…

The importance of this shift in City Government is that - unlike every other jurisdiction in the state - our formula funded school system dollars and capital dollars go directly to the school system and not to the city...So the city adds another almost half billion dollars to operations of our schools … giving the system a nearly $2 billion dollar operating budget for our over 80,000 students...TO put that in perspective - this nearly $2 billion budget is juxtaposed against the nearly $3 billion dollars that the city allocates to operate THE ENTIRE CITY, including, police, fire, towing, trash pickup, paving, employment development, training, health initiatives, homeless services, recreation and parks and afternoon school programs for our children, as well as programs for the aging, community markets, bike paths and many more... for our 620,000 residents…

I want to thank Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh of the Appropriations Committee and Senators McFadden, Ferguson and Joan Carter-Conway who led and lead the fight for a just funding of our schools and college systems...

Our entire Delegation is committed to fighting for not just fair funding of our school system but JUST funding....Thank you all for the work you do...on behalf of the citizens of our city.

This year we will add another 2 million dollar to the city schools capital budget bringing our contribution to $19 million ...I remind you that as a State Senator we brought back to the city a billion dollars to build 23 new schools in Baltimore..., We have since opened 2 new schools in this school year - Fort Washington Elementary and Middle - and Frederick Elementary ... and we will open 2 new 21st Century School buildings next month...we are well on our way to improving the facilities for our young people... ...But new buildings alone will not solve the myriad problems facing our schools…

While we don’t operate the schools or the buildings I could not stand on the sideline and watch our school system struggle to regain its footing when nearly 80 schools went offline during one of the worst winter freezes we've experienced in some time...I could not stand by and point fingers as to who controlled our schools...I contacted Dr. Sonja Santelises and said whatever is needed, we are there for our students...We went many steps further...I sent teams from our offices of General Services, led by Steve Sharkey and Mr. Chow of Public Works and got the private sector to join us in getting those schools reopened. By the time the weekend was over - working collaboratively with the partners I had assembled along with the school system - we were able to get all but 8 schools back in service before that Monday, and all but one back in service before the following weekend…Through this collaboration with Dr. Santelises...we developed another policy...we will not wait for schools to be out three days before we provide food for our children…

THE NEW POLICY IS THAT WHEN OUR SCHOOLS CLOSE, THE CITY WILL OPEN RECREATION CENTERS AND PROVIDE ACTIVITIES AND FOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN.....LET US NEVER FORGET THAT WE HAVE HOMELESS CHILDREN IN OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM...AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT PROPERLY NOURISHED BUT DEPEND ON US TO PROVIDE THAT ALL IMPORTANT DAILY MEAL….

Building new schools and repairing those that we can is important...but closing old schools that are antiquated, outdated and unfit for learning is necessary as evident by the experience we just endured.....We must be strategic...Communities deserve to know if a school building is closing permanently, what plans do we have for that structure so that we do not leave an empty building unpurposed in their neighborhoods.

Working with our planning, housing and economic development partners in both the public and private sectors, we will provide those plans and see those buildings as opportunities to help shape and stabilize neighborhoods…

Rebuilding neighborhoods is the cornerstone of this administration...boarded up buildings are an eyesore and harbor criminal activity - and they further the destruction of a neighborhood...Our citizens deserve better and we will do better by them. I asked our Housing Commissioner to create a workforce training team to repair houses before they fall into disrepair...Michael Braverman I’m looking forward to meeting that team...they can be ex-offenders or skilled people with a desire to work!

Because blight demoralizes communities, I’ve asked my Housing department to tear down as many dilapidated properties as quickly as we can….we are on schedule to tear down just over 1000 before the end of this year...while it represents aggressive work on the part of our Housing department … this is not enough...All 14,000 boarded up houses don’t need to be torn down ….some can be rehabbed...and we are creating an investment fund to allow us to incentivize the development and occupancy of those structures we can save…

Park Heights is a community ripe for this kind of initiative….our impressionable corridors - whether Broadway North to South; North Avenue East to West ... Monroe, Fulton, Biddle, Chase, Martin Luther KIng, Greenmount or the many other neighborhoods that have gone neglected or seen little or no investment...Our goal is to create safe, walkable and livable communities... In researching the comeback of urban cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Detroit...they all included the support and investment by their Business Communities...The city needs the business community to help us develop a billion dollar investment fund over the next 5 years… Join us in tearing down and rebuilding neighborhoods that have endured neglect and underinvestment for decades...We can change Baltimore and create neighborhoods that everyone would want to live and work in….

No one knows better than this council that our city does not operate only 9 to 5...and neither should city government. The needs of our communities go beyond those golden hours .. so we must be available to meet them...I am restructuring city government to meet those needs...and we are making progress…Adding neighborhood workers that are able to deal with community problems 24/7 … and outreach workers in agencies to deal with issues before they erupt...We know that this approach works and our agencies must move from being reactive to proactive - this is responsive and accountable government!

Last year we launched this approach with our call to action group...mostly volunteers ...After a three hour training with our mediation group, I walked with them, knocked on doors .We talked with Baltimoreans about the needs of their community…and returned a few weeks later with the services they requested...

You will see other agencies - do like police and fire - move outside agency walls...to the streets not just to respond to emergencies but to the needs of a 24-hour city….The Office of Employment Development, for example, now joins the Fire Department on daily walks through neighborhoods making sure our residents have smoke detectors...OED asks if anyone they encounter are looking for jobs...and then provide them with information...They will now be equipped with iPADS to help residents immediately fill out applications for jobs that we have available … The services requested thus far from the neighborhood listening tours have ranged from expanded recreation programs, drug treatment services, criminal record expungement, to jobs where we bring our Library/City’s Mobile Jobs Unit to them where they live and with the essential resources they need…

Let me take this moment to announce that by mid-April - through the generous donation of an anonymous donor ...who simply asked only to be identified as: “SPONSORED BY BALTIMORE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN BALTIMORE’S FUTURE” ...we will have our second MOBILE JOBS UNIT on the streets of Baltimore equipped to handle job applications and employment on the spot…

I INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME, COMMISSIONER DE SOUSA, AND OUR VIOLENCE REDUCTION TEAM AS WE CLOSE-OFF Pennsylvania and Laurens and bring essential services to a community of folks who are in dire need of help... We know by virtue of our own experience that this approach matters and makes a difference to those in our neighborhoods…

Responsive government can actually lift and empower citizens - I am fortunate to have so many working alongside me who are tireless in their devotion to their work which they see not as a job but as a vocation. They are helping me to address the needs of our citizens in a way I believe will change the trajectory of those most in need and those most vulnerable to falling through the cracks.

The high unemployment rate of African American Men in Baltimore City is unacceptable...in every category...whether you have a PHD or no degree...or a returning citizen or a long time resident...We must do better…

I’m remembering a conversation I had with Mayor Mitch Landrieu who is about to end his term as Mayor of New Orleans...I asked him to tell me what was the biggest problem in New Orleans he did not conquer...and his reply was the myriad of problems facing Black males in particular, high unemployment, drug addiction, engagement in criminal activity...It led me to research and find out what is being done in this country to deal with that problem...a problem that similarly grips our city….In Baltimore while we have reduced unemployment to its lowest rate in a decade...Blacks are 81% of the unemployed in our city...with African American males being the majority of that number...These findings and the comments of Mayor Landrieu led me to establish the Office of African American Male Engagement that is being led by Dr. Andrey Bundley. Dr. Bundley is charged with coordinating all initiatives to increase employment, ad business opportunities, and wrap-around services for African American males including the many men returning from prison to our city, and to help them become stable, and productive members of our community. Dr. Bundley won’t be able to do this work by himself, so I am calling on Business Leaders, employers, faith based and non-profit, philanthropic groups to help us face and fix this problem…Dr. Bundley, Andrew Knox ... we wish you and your team great success in what you call your mission and not a job. Thank you for taking this on! Make Baltimore an example that our nation needs to follow.

I am excited to report to you that our Recreation and Parks Department, under the leadership of Reggie Moore, has launched some very exciting programs for our young people...The drone camp caters to STEAM development launched last month in 10 of our 42 recreation centers and will be expanded as interest continues to grow. Over a million dollars is being spent to to renovate our indoor and outdoor pools and upgrade them to be ADA compliant. We are also improving recreation centers and replacing roofs, while refinishing floors and improving courts and fields.. We are so grateful to the nearly 14,000 individuals who volunteer to support the numerous programs … Canoeing, fishing, biking, senior splash, summer leagues day and night, ..all of that to therapeutic recreation. Through Recreation and Parks, including Rhythm and Reels, we have involved over 100,000 participants. We are working to create a competitive environment for all our children whether they dance, sing, spell, do science or athletics - where they can learn to be with each other, without hurting one another.

Mr. President, Comptroller and Council, late last year I closed the Shake and Bake Family Fun Center...I closed it because the roof was in disrepair, about to collapse, the air conditioning and heating were not dependable, the concession stands were not acceptable … you were hard pressed to find matching skates and the roller rink floor was buckling and 70% of the bowling lanes were inoperable...I know the decision to close this facility angered many… But for me and many in our community mediocrity is not acceptable...All of our communities deserve quality recreational and entertainment venues and the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor is no exception. We will re-open the iconic Shake and Bake Family Fun Center first visualized and established by the great Colt Player Glenn Doughty...We have just about completed the roof, installed the heating and air conditioning system, purchased 500 new pairs of skates and added quality concessions...We will open the Skating Rink and we will continue to work on the bowling Alley….Join us for that opening on March 23rd…We’re excited!

Mr. President, Comptroller - Council - We have received over 100 applications for each of two revived initiatives - the Women’s Commission and the LGBTQ Commission. We look forward to their work which is about promoting inclusion and defeating disparity wherever it exists. Baltimore is a great city because it is a city of diverse neighborhoods, ethnic heritages and one that celebrates people of every walk of life. We need to amplify the concerns of those whom society has not always embraced, as well as the tremendous power and impact of women in every aspect of our civic life.

Our Office of Immigration under the direction Catalina Rodriguez-Lima….is working hard on behalf of the immigrant community and pursuing initiatives that will leave no doubt that Baltimore is a welcoming city. We will continue to support the expansion of educational, job and business opportunities for our immigrant communities.

In this last year our agencies have accomplished a great deal - much more than I am able to capture in one address...but I would like for all of our agency heads to stand...so that I can at the least say thank you for working with me in my unconventional approach to changing city government so that it meets the needs of our community…I know some of you dread those late night and weekend TEXTS that require thoughtful responses, often on the spur of the moment!

I will be working with Jason Perkins Cohen, of the Office of Employment Development to secure summer jobs for the over 16,000 young people who have applied to work in our YouthWorks Summer Jobs program. This is up considerably from the 12,000 who applied last year...we believe this is due to the business community and our own agencies providing our young people with meaningful job experiences...I ask each of you to hire at least one youth at $1600 to work in your offices, business or organization this summer. Mr. President - both you and our Comptroller committed to this program last year and I know you will again this year…

Through Jason’s efforts we will also work with our school system to host the first jobs fair on May 9th for our graduating seniors…. please I ask of our employers and agency heads - fill some of those positions with our own youth and help inspire their imaginations and interests for their future careers!

We have made Baltimore City Community College Free...and we are geared up to help them transition into our community college, we also are seeking to track every youth that graduates from our schools this year, we want to know where they are going, whether To work, college or the armed forces - and if they are not employed we will work with them to help determine their next steps whether it is a training or internship program…

WE MUST KNOW WHERE ALL OF OUR CHILDREN ARE… BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT HANGING on THE CORNERS OF OUR STREETS IS NOT AN OPTION…

THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT UNDER DR. LEANA WEN has become one of the most innovative health departments in the country... tackling drug addiction and offering new policy and initiatives that bring us closer to solutions while training more people to prevent overdoses. The addition of a stabilization center will only add to better treatment for this vulnerable population...Our eye glass program for our children in cooperation with Johns Hopkins has helped to move our children from those in need to model students… and our Be More Healthy Babies Program is helping mothers raise more healthy children…

Last year I announced my intention to separate the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and Housing and Community Development...in order to create a more focused Federal Housing Program and a much needed housing and community development program...It is done!

Under the leadership of Commissioner Michael Braverman, the Housing and Community Development Department has seen 75 percent of all permits now being processed online and with the use of technology the inspection process is much improved and faster. We are looking forward to a new Artist Housing Development project being proposed by HCD through its work with the Artist Task Force in West Baltimore.

The 3.5 million grant matched by the Weinberg Foundation will enable over 500 aging adults to receive housing repairs.

Our Housing Department - through its many initiatives - are touching thousands of people in our city ... whether it is adding solar to UNDER-SERVED communities, sustaining our summer food program or supporting the Baltimore Energy Challenge, they are changing lives…The main focus of this agency is to lead housing development and rehabilitate neglected neighborhoods.

I want to thank the Department of Human Resources, the Office of Employment Development, the Housing Authority of Baltimore and Social Services, whose collective efforts resulted in almost 10,000 Baltimoreans receiving employment… and HABC for its intense focus on transforming public housing...The Perkins Project is being developed under the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and could see some $30 million dollars in funding…

Making sure that government is responsive, transparent and accountable, we have mandated a new focus for agencies for this very purpose.

The Mayor's’ Office of Sustainable Solutions is being directed by Kendra Pollack - a data scientist who focuses on performance measures to facilitate accountability and business processes so that we can measure outcomes…

Let me remind you that she is responsible for establishing the tools and providing the information that determines when an agency is not in compliance with the goals they set...or the Mayor sets...She does not set the goals...she measures and provides the transparency by which they are all governed...that is for every agency.

I’m pleased to announce that for the first time in the history of Baltimore, we have launched under Frank Johnson…. The Inclusive Digital Transformation Strategic Plan which will serve as a roadmap in designing a technology ecosystem that reduces redundancy and costs while improving the public's experience with city government … while also bringing Baltimore up to 21st Century standards.

The Mayor’s Office of Innovation, led by Dan Hymowitz, with the use of technology has helped improve the efficiency of the BPD’s hiring process, while maintaining high standards- The i-team, as I call them, is now working with the BPD to build a high school cadet and apprentice program while building on the recruitment success of 2017 – This will be the first time since 2009 that BPD hiring outpaced attrition. They’ll develop an extensive collaboration with community groups, local schools and colleges so we can hire even more great candidates from Baltimore City who will shape our future police department … The I-Team’s next focus will be building better outcomes for homelessness.

The Mayor's office of Criminal Justice, led by Drew Vetter is coordinating all criminal justice activities and supporting initiatives in our Police Department…while hiring a Human Trafficking Coordinator, thank you Councilman Burnett for your efforts with that initiative…

The work of our Small, Minority and Women Business Office continues to expand as we streamline our certification process to mirror surrounding jurisdictions and the state to provide easier access to city contracts, permits and licensing. Our aim is simple – to create a more inclusionary process by giving more opportunity for those in our City to compete.

In our effort to improve not only the way Baltimore looks - but how it works for our citizens, the Department of Transportation under Michelle Pourciau...is reconstructing over 180,000 sidewalks, installing 14 bike lane locations for a total of approximately 20 miles of biking lanes ...

DOT has also converted 23,000 lights to LED lights. This summer they will install 2,400 new lights with the completion of 6,000 by the end of 2019 to create a more walkable and welcoming City.

Our Efforts to provide FOOD, whether through our after school programs, senior healthy food programs or filling the needs of underserved communities is already an example that other cities should be following ...thank you Holly FRISH-STAT.

BeMORE BEAUTIFUL and its Outreach Program led by Rebecca Woods is engaging our citizens and young people across this city in cleaning lots and alleys-while putting many to work...

My thanks to Rudy Chow for all that you are doing to innovate our Water Department. Your initiatives have increased opportunities for African Americans and Other minorities to do business with our city...which is under a Federal mandate to fix our infrastructure that will create billions of dollars in work...but thank you for upgrading our meters to allow every citizen to moderate their own water usage…

I want to be clear... NO CITIZEN IN BALTIMORE will lose their home over a delinquent water bill...but you must not sit back and wait for the problem to exacerbate! WE ARE POISED TO HELP… but we can’t help if we don’t know...help us ... help you…

The 65 individuals who camped in front of city hall...and the 40 individuals who camped on Guildford...we reached out to...conversed with, surveyed and offered them assistance in identifying different options. Thank you Terry Hickey and staff for your approach and leadership… most of those homeless individuals... indeed wanted housing...some especially mothers with children were able to receive quickly wrap-around services and housing that included section 8 vouchers. And yes, some are living in dormitory style quarters where they receive meals, transportation, training, medical attention and work, without being forced into shelters that require curfews...We are working with HELPING UP MISSION and our own housing department to provide additional housing ...this year they will break ground for 300 new housing accommodations for the homeless...In Baltimore, we spend at least $200 million dollars in subsidies for affordable housing…Without question, there is much work ahead and more investments to be made.

We must have an unqualified commitment to making this city more inclusive and more diverse - and not infringe on anyone's Civil Rights. We thank Jill Carter who leads our Office of Civil Rights…

The year recently concluded was a challenging one, but one of clear progress. The removal of the confederate statues was an act motivated by the need to remove from our most prominent public spaces images that enshrined attitudes and policies that were degrading for the majority of our citizens.

Like many cities around this nation and communities across this state, drugs and the epidemic of opioid addiction is devastating families, and most especially our young people… Although we are doing much, we must do more ….

I encountered a young man one morning who I instructed to go to school… he was on the corner at 10 am. squeeging...I later encountered that same young man at 9:30 p.m...concerned, I visited him the next day at school...I asked him how I could help him... he ...a 14 year old...said - “I need a job” ...I encountered him on two more occasions on the street with his mother begging for whatever he could get within that same week...I did get him a job...in one of our year-round programs for youth who want to work...I later learned that his mother was actually homeless and an addict...

In an effort to help them, we harnessed city services, provided them with housing and in connecting them with social services learned there were many more problems that we were not aware of… Thank you Reggie Scriber, and KWAME !

What I can tell you is that he is now in foster care...with a wonderful family...but so are at least three of his other family members - one since her birth, cocaine addicted…she's now seven...I share this with you because there are so many others just like him. The impact of what happens in our streets impacts the lives of our children...I ask you to be slow to judge and more eager to help...Changing Baltimore requires working collectively to solve our problems and together lifting those who need a helping hand and the assurance that someone cares. This is the means for our success and what will ultimately move our city forward.

A day does not pass that I don’t marvel at the tremendous opportunity I’ve been given to serve you - Baltimore citizens - as your Mayor. I am convinced - and the statistics bear out - that we are turning a decisive corner - one that indicates that the hard work of this past year is beginning to pay off. We are beginning to claim the benefits of tireless toil on the part of so many who invest endless time and effort to intervene in young lives and disrupt the prospect of violence.

I am equally grateful for the commitment of so many - our business leaders, non-profits, Foundations, and Unions who provide the support and added resources we need to

CHANGE OUR NARRATIVE BY CHANGING THE VERY CONDITIONS THAT DEFINE IT. To all of you - THANK YOU - THANK YOU … THANK YOU!

It may come as a surprise that Baltimore is considered one of the top cities for startups, and we have a strong, vibrant tech community that is only getting stronger. This is due largely to the quality of colleges and universities in our city and region and the entrepreneurial drive of our citizens. Just recently, the City’s incubator, the “Emerging Technology Center,” - which is a venture of the Baltimore Development Corporation, lead by Bill Cole - was ranked 7th out of 1,370 in the category of top incubators working in collaboration with universities by the international organization that studies and evaluates business incubation.

Just a few weeks ago - the New York Times proclaimed what some of us already knew - BALTIMORE IS AMONG THE GREATEST CITIES IN THE WORLD - We were distinguished as 15 among 52 international MUST-VISIT cities. Then, Forbes Magazine just named us one of the top ten “Coolest cities” - no secret among our MILLENNIAL population! We’ve also been cited as the third best city for Women in Technology; And Black Enterprise proclaimed Baltimore one of the top cities for African Americans to grow their businesses…

Mr. President, Comptroller, Council members and citizens... BALTIMORE IS A CITY ON THE RISE! … We will not turn back, nor falter in our constant effort to move our City forward. Thank you for your partnership and for all that you are doing to support our continued - undeterred momentum. There is much more work ahead - let’s do it together! Thank you for this opportunity to share. God bless!

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