Baltimore Sun Defends Landlords

Baltimore, Maryland has a very long history of unsatisfied renters. When the rest of the popular mainstream American media speaks about things like “ghettos” and “slums,” Baltimore is usually their apex example of how things have fallen apart. The city has poured over a trillion dollars into affordable housing and the rental-home community over the past couple of generations, yet still things there are deteriorating. There was a national campaign in 2019, where volunteers had to go into Baltimore to remove nearly 100 tons of trash, because for whatever reason(s) the people who created the junk pile up utterly refused to remove it and demanded that Baltimore City step in to clean up. The city’s most popular newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, has been stepping up recently to side with landlords in the area’s latest fight.

Since Covid struck in 2020, more and more of Baltimore’s renters have been turning to protesting landlords, claiming that their rent is too high. Ironically enough, it’s the people who only pay a portion of their rent, due to Section 8 subsidies, who seem to be the angriest. Though also included in the dust-up are wealthier, middle-class people who claim the rent is too high. This is something that’s coming out of New York City and bleeding down into the Baltimore metro area. The Democratic Socialists of America, staged protests last year for a right for free housing. They argue no one should be able to charge rent and every human being is entitled to free housing.

Some people in Baltimore have taken this message to heart, and now landlords in the city are public enemy number one, with thousands of residents claiming that they shouldn’t have to pay their current rates for rent. The Sun has actually been siding with its landlords over its tenants, which hasn’t historically been the case. However, these are unprecedented times, and the Sun urges tenants to “stop vilifying landlords and work with them toward housing solutions.”

At the end of the day, the Sun assumes that everyone wants the same things here. The assumption made is that landlords want to extract rent as income, as most of them rely on that as their only source of income; and also that renters just want to be treated fairly and pay a lower price per month. However, this isn't factoring in what may be the driving force of the entire situation: The Democratic Socialists of America and their insistence that no one should have to pay rent.

It’s no secret why people would be demanding free housing right now. Up until two months ago, over 14 million Americans were receiving a minimum of $600 per week in state and federal unemployment payments. For the average American, this was more than they were receiving at their jobs previously. So, the idea was cemented in many people’s heads: We don’t have to work to make money, so why should we have to pay for housing? This idea has been taking off in a big way in Baltimore. Although the mainstream media doesn’t really cover it much, the Democratic Socialist members have been fomenting civil unrest there for quite some time now.

There have been quite a few issues in Baltimore over the past year regarding their housing. By and large, most people are happy enough that the city instituted rent freezes and moratoriums. However, now that Maryland has opened back up, landlords are demanding their rent, and many tenants want things to go back to how they were last year, where they didn’t have to pay rent. This is the gist of the situation, it would seem, and things are just really heating up.

The Struggle of Rental Housing in Baltimore

Baltimore’s tensions between renters and landlords goes back for generations. There isn’t enough room in a library to properly explain the long and storied history of these tensions. Suffice to say that these new tensions are over something entirely different. It’s not so much that landlords are mistreating tenants; it’s more to do with the fact that many tenants have made up their minds now that they shouldn’t have to pay rent.

This is in no way saying that landlords haven’t earned this backlash in many ways. Baltimore landlords are famous for not showing up to handle repairs. Plus, the average rental apartment in the city goes for around $1,500 per month, which is a lot higher than anywhere else in Maryland. Landlords claim it’s fine, since their prices are much lower than DC, but that doesn’t help people much who live in Baltimore and wouldn’t live in DC anyway.

The Sun currently is taking a stand for landlords in Baltimore, but no one knows how long that’s going to last.

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