The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Baltimore’s ‘ghost homes’ are just houses

Vacant buildings in 2019 on Brantley Avenue in Baltimore. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

As the song goes, “A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sitting there.” But a house is not the same thing as a home. A home is a dwelling place; apartments qualify, as well as many trailers. Not so the abandoned, decaying buildings described in the Nov. 29 Metro article about Baltimore’s “ghost homes,” “Baltimore turns to foreclosure plan to solve ‘ghost homes.’

Largely uninhabitable — even by actual ghosts — and unsaleable because of unsettled debts, they are defined by their un-homeness. Even the squatters who take shelter in such places are still homeless. Some of Baltimore’s vacant buildings were once beautiful — and were once homes. Until they can be made so again, let’s call them what they are. A house is just a house.

Lynn W. Jensen, Baltimore