So like I considered running for city council--I even notified my opponents at multiple points (one councilman per district, I notified the incumbents) of said intent. This opened dialog.
This city is great, or should be. Baltimore is a major trade port. It should have massive economic prosperity, yet it doesn't. There's a lot of crime, there's lots of boarded up houses--I mean a lot, like whole blocks with one or two occupied houses. People are poor, the school systems don't work, taxes are high and the city is too broke to provide basic civil services. Roads go unrepaired, mass transit projects take decades and cost too much, community centers close, schools are overfunded ($13000 per student per year) yet no improvements occur (not enough textbooks, they're old and falling apart, furniture is unserviceable, classrooms are crowded, teachers are underpaid).
I've been trying to find a way to fix it. This is what I do, I fix sh#t. I get inside things, I learn how they work, I tweak the parts that need tweaking. Things that are outright wrong I gut and rebuild, usually in sections. This city is broken and I need to fix it.
The house next to the one I'm buying is burned down.
The City Council of Baltimore City owns it.
The lawn is overgrown. I'll have to fix that. There's trash in the back (big bags), I need to have the city remove it. The roof needs a gutter--it's dumping water around the foundation, which is causing structural damage and mold growth in surrounding houses--so I need to fix that, and also alter the grade around neighboring houses to resist the problem anyway.
But really. I could just take the house from the city. I could grab it for a few hundred, or free. Get a contractor ($30/hr) to help me plot out how to work things, how to rebuild, how to get to code, and get some of it in place; do a lot of the work myself, bringing in help for survey and consulting and extra labor. Nobody else is going to do it. That house will never get rebuilt because it costs more than it'll sell for, if you count labor.
Should I do it? I've got my own projects, but I have so much disposable income. It'd cost me a few thousand to get it started. Maybe a thousand a month if that, which is peanuts. The ROI would be massive--you can't put a price on something like that. You can put a cost on it, you can put in sales numbers, but the improvement to the community is huge if finite, and not measurable.
Sturdy structural foundation, run conduit carrying CAT6 network, run a fire suppression system (yeah a good $5000 but uh, the house burned down once already; trust me it's worth it
). Half inch concrete backing on the floors, thick packed foam insulation, one inch drywall. It's not worth doing if it's not done right.
But would it make a difference? There's a bricked house across the street, and one for sale as-is falling apart. What's it matter if I take these and fix them? Maybe I can do it and sell them for $75k and get rich. Maybe I can rent them out and get income. But what does it really DO?
Am I just bringing in more people to rob and rape and murder and have children to send to s***ty schools that produce social welfare families?