Culture

Keep the Rats, Ditch the Rich: How Baltimore renters stop housing price increases

Gentrification has ruined the lives of many poor residents, but one neighborhood in Baltimore figured out a way to stop it

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As many outraged politicians are collectively reeling from President Trump’s most recent statements on Baltimore, calling one district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” some residents of Baltimore are just smiling and shrugging their shoulders. Years of hard work and engineering have finally come to a head for these folks, and the public will finally know their story.

On February 6th, 2010, land and houses inside the “slum” district were purchased by a wealthy young couple who made their money on a process known as gentrification. This process entails purchasing cheap, run-down properties and fixing them up to resell at a much higher value. It also generally raises property value of other homes around the properties, which causes taxes to rise and forces the poor out of their own neighborhoods.

After the locals heard about this issue, they set to work on a plan that would force out the wealthy couple, or at least make the neighborhood so unappealing that the gentrified houses would lose their appeal. Some neighbors began ripping down fences and hacking into their own siding. In May of that year, Geannie Nichols and her husband purchased rats and mice from local pet stores and released them into the neighborhood, much to the ire of the wealthy couple and their contractors.

“We did everything we could to decrease property values. A few years later, we found out Baltimore had made the list of top 10 worst cities in the country to live. I’d like to think we were a big part of that,” said 64-year-old Geannie to our reporter. She smiled and looked back at her apartment building. It was covered in graffiti and boarded windows.

Police were called to the neighborhood about 40 times a month for nearly a year and a half after construction initially began on the houses, and finally, one day, the contractors just stopped showing up. After a week of no-shows, the houses were littered with trash and yard waste. It was a victory for the community. However, the lingering fear of new money keeps the neighbors in check. They must continue to destroy their own homes just to keep them, and that says a lot about our country.

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Quinn

Quinn Barton is a social activist and member of Boston Antifa since its inception in 2017. She spends most of her time as a freegan at local vegan restaurants and the rest at demos for social justice. During the hardest years of her life (the Trump election), Quinn discovered a passion for politics, which has since transcended into videography and writing for the esteemed Boston Antifa collaboration with Dustin Levitt, journalist advocate for Journalist Excellence Worldwide. This entire site is satire.

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