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Coalition calls for ballot measure to establish a community wealth building fund in Baltimore City, with payments from tax-exempt hospitals and universities

January 17, 2024

The With Us For Us (WUFU) coalition has launched a campaign advocating for the creation of a community wealth building fund that would address chronic disinvestment in Black neighborhoods in Baltimore and help create an inclusive, sustainable economy built on locally-rooted and broadly-held ownership. The campaign seeks to add a question to the November 2024 ballot that would create a community wealth building fund through an amendment to the Baltimore City charter. To fuel the fund, WUFU is calling for tax-exempt hospitals and universities to make higher PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) contributions to the City. Baltimore City currently has a PILOT agreement with fifteen hospitals and universities that allows them to pay a sum of $6 million per year of the $110 million that they would otherwise owe in property taxes. This 2010 deal was renewed in 2016 and is set to expire in June 2026, giving Baltimore’s government the opportunity to reconsider this agreement. With PILOT contributions or other sources of funding, the community wealth building fund would distribute grants to local businesses and programs in historically Black and Brown neighborhoods, including co-ops, community land trusts, agriculture, investment funds, and more, through a transparent, community-led process. The ballot measure would establish a 15-member commission of Baltimore residents, appointed by the mayor, to oversee the fund and make recommendations on the negotiation of future PILOT agreements.

The Public Justice Center is a member of WUFU, contributing to the development and implementation of the coalition’s legal and policy strategies to address Baltimore City’s inequitable economic development practices. We encourage you to share your support as WUFU collects signatures from Baltimore City residents to put the community wealth building fund on the ballot. You can sign up for email updates from WUFU, learn about collecting signatures and add your own signature, and attend this teach-in and panel discussion on January 31 at 6 pm. Learn more on WUFU’s website and in this Baltimore Banner article about the launch of the campaign.