At the risk of sounding like a Baltimore-basher, I thought I should devote a post or two to the things that the city is doing (or has done) to make a more open city. In the previous post, I mentioned that Baltimore was a laboratory for the development of tools of discrimination, but Baltimore has also done a fair amount of experimenting with social policies, institutions, etc. that foster--as opposed to restrict--access to space.
For example, Baltimore has a pretty impressive Housing Mobility program. The product of an ACLU-initiated lawsuit against HUD (Thompson v. HUD) whose court documents could be bound and marketed as an American urban history textbook, the program seeks to combat the concentration of poverty in minority communities by giving public housing families access to private market housing in low poverty and predominantly white neighborhoods (or what the Kirwan Institute calls "zones of opportunity"). A newish report on the program, published by The Poverty and Race Research Action Council and The Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign, notes that since 2002, the program has moved 1,522 families into wealthier, less segregated neighborhoods in Baltimore County (88 percent of families moved from the inner city to suburban counties).
The report paints a rosy picture of the program, and for good reason. According to the report's Executive Summary, a survey of the families revealed that:
-Neighborhoods moved from were 80 percent black and 33 percent poor; those moved to were 21 percent black and 7.5 percent poor.
-Median household income in old neighborhoods was $24,182 and in new was $48,318.
-Eighty-three percent of settled participants (those who have been in their homes for at least 14 months) say their neighborhood is better or much better than their old neighborhood.
-In the new neighborhoods’ elementary schools, 69 and 76 percent of students scored proficient or higher on state math and reading tests, compared with 44 percent and 54 percent in the original city schools.
Those are pretty impressive results indeed. Stay tuned for some more pro Baltimore posts!
Monday, July 12, 2010
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