Baltimore, Street, Houses

Yepoka Yeebo / Business Insider

In Baltimore the wrecks stretch for blocks in every direction. Shattered windows, buckling walls, sometimes just a façade, propped up by the houses on either side.

The vacant streets are punctuated by the odd meticulously-kept home; a living city slowly turning into a ghost town.

Click here to see some of the abandoned homes >

Baltimore has tried to deal with the tens of thousands of abandoned houses that mar the city. They’ve been refurbished. They’ve been raffled for $1. They’ve been demolished. But the number of vacant houses keeps growing.

There were radical efforts to seize abandoned homes and sell off city-owned property. In the nineties, $100 million was poured into some of the most troubled areas. Now the city is trying another approach: jump-starting the housing markets in healthier neighborhoods.

As Baltimore faces a $52 million budget shortfall, there is a more urgent need than ever to deal with the vacant homes, which still require public services like fire and police patrol.

47,000 vacant properties.

The numbers vary depending on who's counting, but the highest estimates suggest there are 46,800 vacant houses and lots in Baltimore —