Exposing Slumlord Speculation in Baltimore

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This week, The Atlantic’s Katherine Wells profiles Carol Ott, a Baltimore mother of two who is blogging to expose those responsible for turning her city’s poorer neighborhoods into the abandoned, blighted tracts they are today. Ott writes the blog Baltimore Slumlord Watch, where she posts pictures of the city’s decaying buildings, along with the names and addresses of the landlords who have neglected them.

As Ott notes, one abandoned building can be the beginning of the end for a troubled block. In a city that already had problems endemic to many post-industrial American cities (race and class tension, high unemployment, a shrinking tax base), irresponsible housing speculation was another nail in many neighborhoods’ coffins. Now, through her blog and a new advocacy group she started called Housing Policy Watch, Ott is fighting to hold those responsible accountable.

“I have no grand illusion of myself coming in and saving neighborhoods, that’s ridiculous,” Ott says. “But I really need to now see this to some sort of end.”

John Light is a reporter and producer for the Moyers team. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, Grist, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Vox and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. He's a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.
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