My name is Mike Casiano. Between 2016 and 2018, I served as the secretary of Charm City Land Trusts (CCLT), a community land trust in East Baltimore’s McElderry Park neighborhood. I continue to serve CCLT as part of its Communications & Community Organizing Committee.
When I got to CCLT, the organization had multiple green- and open-space properties in the community and dutifully stewarded them daily with residents for the health of the neighborhood. Additionally, the organization had recently acquired a residential property on the 500 block of North Luzerne from Wells Fargo, a bank that had foreclosed on its previous owners. I was—and continue to be—hopeful that CCLT could rehabilitate the property and create a leasehold for a community resident who would similarly contribute to the overall wellbeing of McElderry Park.
However, both our open-space properties and residential property were beset by challenges stemming from uncooperative city agencies and the private sector—groups whose sole motivation seemed to be profit generation no matter the cost.
I’m running to contribute to a change in the way we understand neighborhood property and land in Baltimore City. With the proceeds going to the redevelopment of CCLT’s residential property, we can finally move closer to our goal of securing community lands in trust—of safeguarding our communities from profit-hungry developers who are happy to buy and sell property at the highest price point and for the highest possible return with little regard for the people who have lived in the neighborhood for decades.
Every dollar counts. Together, we can usher in a new attitude toward development in Baltimore and reverse the tide of racialized divestment that has left many of our neighborhoods vacant, abandoned, and subject to the whims of the speculative market.