Perkins Homes Residents Critical Of Harbor Point Tax Breaks

Jul 11, 2013

Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes questions Baltimore Development Corporation President Brenda McKenzie during a hearing Wednesday evening on a resolution sponsored by Stokes. BDC is not supporting the resolution, which calls for a portion of tax credit savings for Harbor Point go to the benefit of residents of the nearby Perkins Homes public housing community.
Credit P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Last night, Baltimore City Hall was filled with supporters of a resolution proposed by Councilman Carl Stokes. It calls for the developers of Harbor Point to put a portion of enterprise zone tax credits into a fund that would help residents of the nearby Perkins Homes public housing community.

The tax credits themselves are estimated to be worth $88 million over 10 years.

Councilman Stokes’ non-binding resolution calls for thirty percent of those credits to go towards paying for things like after school programs and job training for Perkins Homes residents.

One of those residents, Bertha McCormick, was at last night's meeting. McCormick said: "I think you would have gotten more support if the people that we're dealing with had come to us as a community. You know, people say they want to do things and say they have our best interest at heart, but they really don't."

Critics say that the enterprise zone that includes Harbor Point was manipulated to include Perkins Homes so the development can qualify for the tax breaks. Officials deny that charge – saying that Harbor Point was part of the enterprise zone before it was removed and ultimately reinstated.

At last night’s committee meeting, Councilman Stokes was critical of Harbor Point developer Michael Beatty—who did not show up at the hearing. Stokes said: "It's a damn shame Beatty didn't walk his behind in here tonight."

Stokes took part of last night's meeting to ask Baltimore Development Corporation President Brenda McKenzie whether she would supporting residents; McKenzie said she would "work with anybody interested in investing and growing the city."