After the veto of the tenant bill, what options for rental housing?

Last week, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has vetoed controversial bill this would have allowed tenants some alternatives to paying flat-rate security deposits. One alternative, supported by most housing advocates, would have allowed tenants to pay security deposits in installments. Another provision in the bill would have allowed tenants to purchase “bonds” that would place liability in the hands of a company which, in turn, would be able to bill tenants directly. This provision is the one that sparked the mayor’s veto and fierce opposition to the bill from a broad coalition of housing and social justice advocates.

If the veto is maintained, what options would be best for tenants and landlords? If security deposits are a barrier to finding quality housing, how can this barrier be overcome?

Today on Midday, Tom is talking about this issue with two lawmakers, a housing advocate and a reporter, and we’ll take your calls and comments. We invited the bill’s sponsor, Councilor Sharon Green Middleton, who said she could not appear due to a scheduling conflict, as well as officials from the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, which represents the owners. They also refused to appear.

Photo of Cohen by Bill Woolf.

Councilor Zeke Cohen; tenants defend Tisha Guthrie; Councilor John Bullock; Fern Shen, editor of BaltimoreBrew.

We start with Baltimore City Councilor Zeke Cohen. He represents the first district. He and Councilor Ryan Dorsey voted against the legislation, which was passed by the Council by 12 votes to 2, with one abstention.

Then we hear the prospect of Tisha Guthrie, a housing advocate who was part of the coalition of groups opposed to the bill that Mayor Scott has vetoed. Guthrie is the treasurer of the Bolton House Residents Association, a building that overlooks the State Center complex in Midtown. Tisha Guthrie is also part of Baltimore Renters United, the group that coordinated public opposition to City Council Bill 12-2, with the strong support of City Council President and Vice President Nick Mosby and Sharon Green Middleton.

Tom then turns to another member of Baltimore city council, John bullock, which represents the 9th district.

And in our last segment, Tom talks with Fern shen, the founder and editor-in-chief of Baltimore Brew. She was covering this story up close.

WYPR Housing Journalist Sarah Y. Kim also followed this story, and you can find its cover here.

All of our guests are joining us today on Zoom.

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