Baltimore City Shrinks, Maryland Redistricts. The 2020 Census Numbers In Play.

WYPR, September 13, 2021
The 2020 Census reveals that Baltimore’s population is at its lowest point in a century. How to reverse the shrinking trend?
Seema Iyer oversees the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, which collects community-level data on hundreds of factors–like income, education, and employment. Iyer blames the slump on lack of access–access to transit, access to the internet, even access to capital. Check out BNIA’s latest report – Vital Signs 19 – as well as videos on that data.


From gotcha to collaboration: CitiStat’s growing pains in Baltimore offer lessons for data-driven government
Technically Baltimore, October 28, 2020
CitiStat and Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance were created simultaneously — one to use data for the government, the other to use and share that data to the public. At this point, it was not quite open data in practice at the government level, but rather in spirit. With BNIA, there was an organization in the city researching and disseminating data with the citizens’ interest at heart.

Declining homeownership documented, especially among Blacks
Baltimore Brew, July 14, 2020
Between  2010 and 2017, as other parts of the country were recovering from the foreclosures of the Great Recession, homeownership in Baltimore was declining, especially among Black residents.
While the citywide rate fell from 51% to 47%, Black homeownership sank from 45% to 42%, according to a report by the Abell Foundation about a trend it calls troubling.
The report dismisses the typical prescriptions for promoting home ownership, concluding that deeper issues present the greatest barriers.

Four students sharing one Chromebook that they can only access through a hotspot
Baltimore Brew, May 11, 2020
Originally from a small town in the Mexican state of Guerrero, Haydee Berdejo was in Baltimore for only a few weeks when the coronavirus disrupted daily life around the globe, hers included. She had started her sophomore year at Baltimore City College in February, midway through the second semester. Still learning English, she found her classes hard to follow. But she was getting the help she needed. She began to form relationships with teachers. She joined a Latinx student advocacy group and stayed after school to get help with homework. Then the pandemic hit.

As school lessons move online, some Baltimore neighborhoods have difficulty accessing the internet
Baltimore Sun, May 1, 2020
Furloughed from her job and holed up with her three children in their East Baltimore apartment, Miss Hill Crumity has done everything she can to get internet access so her children can use the two iPads provided by their elementary school. But nothing is working. Her landlord wouldn’t let Comcast run cable through the walls of the apartment. The Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots that Comcast has made free throughout the city don’t cover her neighborhood. So her only alternative is turning her phone into a hotspot her kids can use in small increments each day. Read more…

Digital access is more important than ever. These grassroots groups are creating neighborhood-level connectivity hubs
Technical.ly Baltimore, April 23, 2020
On Saturday, Sharon Clements arrived at the Southwest Baltimore building that houses Baltimore City Robotics Center to pick up laptops. Greeted by Ed Mullin and Jonathan Moore, Clements talked about how the devices would help the families she works with as children’s program director of Dayspring Programs. The East Baltimore nonprofit helps families experiencing homelessness find housing and offers substance abuse treatment services. The families, she said, have an apartment and a desk set up so children can complete school work and are connected to the internet. But many are using their mother’s phones, which have small screens, and are bound to get interrupted when a call comes in. Read more…

After rioting shook Baltimore five years ago, some seeds of change were planted. Only a few took hold.
Baltimore Sun, April 17, 2020
In a vacant rowhouse down the street from where Freddie Gray was arrested five years ago, in the wake of the rioting that erupted after his death of injuries suffered in police custody, Tubman House was born. Meant to provide a gathering space and fresh produce for its Sandtown-Winchester neighbors, it was among a host of initiatives large and small, governmental and community-based, that emerged in response to the unrest like the green shoots now poking through the soil of the house’s garden. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to address what they saw as the root causes of the fury — from issues of policing and criminal justice to inequities in education and jobs to the grinding poverty that underlies it all. “People rushed in, only to leave a short time later,” said Dominique Conway, who founded the house. Read more…

Baltimore’s Population Dips Below 600,000 For First Time In Over A Century
International Business Times, March 30, 2020
The population of Baltimore, Maryland dropped below the 600,000 level for first time in more than a century last year. Baltimore had a population of 593,490 as of July 2019 – the lowest figure since 1910 when it had 558,485 residents (including a 15-year old boy named George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth). The city reached an all-time peak in population of about 950,000 in 1950. Since 2010, Baltimore has lost more than 27,000 residents. Experts cite that Baltimore is losing residents for three principal reasons: its high property tax rates, poor schools and high crime rates. Read more…

All Greek to Us
Baltimore Magazine, February 2020
Our stomachs crave tradition. Perhaps none is as cherished by Americans as eating leftovers the day after Thanksgiving, but in a rowhouse restaurant in a small enclave of East Baltimore on November’s last Friday, it’s souvlaki and moussaka that Dr. Laura Sterni seeks, not stuffing or mashed potatoes. Nicholas Georgalas is working the grill at Samos, ensuring that Sterni and his other loyal customers feed their Greek fixes. In a city whose culinary scene has evolved immeasurably since Georgalas opened what was then a tiny carryout spot in 1977, his eatery—like Ikaros and Zorba’s, the others that make up Greektown’s Big Three—continues to thrive, despite dwindling numbers. Read more…

Surrounded by neighborhoods on the rise, Baltimore’s Johnston Square gets its shot
Baltimore Sun, February 4, 2020
After years of smaller investments aimed at turning around the blighted East Baltimore neighborhood of Johnston Square, city officials and developers unveiled details Tuesday of a major revitalization plan that includes the rehabilitation of 700 mostly dilapidated properties. Read more…


Want to reduce crime in Baltimore? Invest in the city.
Baltimore Sun, November 19, 2019
Persistent crime is the symptom of a lack of opportunity. A real leader would know that. A real leader also would know that public sector investment is at the root of economic development, which can provide opportunity and a better quality of life for everyone. We need leaders who will commit to bringing investment to the city so that Baltimore has a shot for real opportunity in the future. Read more…

Data, capital and social enterprise: 4 takeaways on access from #BIW19
Technical.ly, October 22, 2019
Inside a makerspace building a diverse community on a formerly blighted block in the Charles Street Corridor of Greenmount West, a dialogue between panelists and attendees alike grappled with what the reality and corresponding inequities of access to innovation means in a city like Baltimore on the final day of Baltimore Innovation Week 2019. Read more…

Once an innovator in making data available to citizens, Baltimore now can’t keep up
Baltimore Sun, October 11, 2019
Government salaries are typically one of the most widely scrutinized sets of data for cities and municipalities nationwide. Five of the 10-most-viewed datasets on Open Baltimore, the city’s public data website, are the annual city employee salary reports. This year, that information was published at the end of September, almost two months later than in recent years.The inconsistency is indicative of a broader struggle within the city’s information technology department to keep up with the demands for sharing data with the public, according to an annual report written by Mike Wisniewski, the city’s chief data officer. Read more...

Former Baltimore Mayor Pugh sells one of her Ashburton homes for $75,000
Baltimore Sun, October 2, 2019
Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has sold one of her two Ashburton homes for $75,000, property records show. Pugh, who resigned in May amid allegations of financial impropriety for selling her self-published children’s books to the University of Maryland Medical System and others, sold her Dennlyn Road home to Boaz Alternative Energy and Technologies LLC on July 31, records show. The home’s assessed value is listed in property records as $187,700. Read more…

The Food Project provides opportunities for Baltimore’s youth
WBALtV, September 12, 2019
A program in Baltimore is giving young people a place to make money and stay off the streets. The Food Project brings cooking restaurant skills, mentorship and job opportunities to young people in southwest Baltimore. Read more…

These impressive Baltimore homes once housed 20th century elite. But are they marketable to today’s buyers?
Baltimore Sun, September 5, 2019
Claire Smith delights in escaping on her runs to what she considers an enchanting part of the city, North Baltimore’s Guilford neighborhood, where she often stops to admire some of the historic homes that transport her to another era.The neighborhood, sometimes lauded as a national model for development and residential planning, sprawls across some 210 acres acquired by the Roland Park Company more than 100 years ago. Just north of Johns Hopkins University and about three miles from downtown, Guilford includes a mix of residences — mansions, cottages and row houses — in broad range of popular 20th century revivalist architectural styles. Read more…

Take a first look at the events lined up for Baltimore Innovation Week 2019
Technical.ly, August 26, 2019
As we get ready to head into fall, the eighth annual Baltimore Innovation Week is approaching. This year’s celebration of the local tech, innovation and entrepreneurship is set for Oct. 5-11. Returning as lead organizer for the second year, ETC (Emerging Technology Centers) is taking a collaborative approach, bringing together more than 55 partners from around the community to work together as they planned events. Read more…

Baltimore’s white population swells with millennials, resembling D.C., Brooklyn
Baltimore Sun, June 20, 2019
“Baltimore is the new Brooklyn,” proclaims a 2009 song by Chicago soul band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. For a specific slice of the population, the two places are looking increasingly similar. That group? White residents between the ages of 25 and 34. People in their mid-20s to mid-30s make up a substantial share of the white population in Baltimore, Brooklyn and several cities across the country including Washington, D.C., which exhibits the most extreme example of this phenomenon, according to newly released Census Bureau estimates for 2018. In Baltimore, more than a quarter of white residents now fall into that age category; in 2000, about 16% did. Read more…

Baltimore: a city stalked by violence, poverty and scandal
France 24, April 16, 2019
Baltimore is known as Charm City, but these days, life here is anything but charming. Violence, drugs and corruption have haunted the port city for decades, despite seemingly endless efforts at renewal. Now, an investigation of the possible misdeeds of Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh has added another layer of despair to the already grimy reputation of this city of 620,000 people. Read more…

4 strategies Baltimore companies are employing to close the gender gap in tech
Technical.ly, March 26, 2019
When it comes to the numbers of women working in technology positions, Baltimore is showing progress: An annual review of jobs data by SmartAsset showed that the city moved up to the number 2 position on the ranking of best cities for women in tech. Read more…

In the midst of West Baltimore blight, an ambition for new housing and a cup of coffee
Baltimore Sun, March 12, 2019
Someone spray-painted a question on the sheet of plywood that covers the front door of one of the old, lovely and abandoned three-story rowhouses near Lafayette Square in West Baltimore: “Why no Starbucks here?” I suppose this was meant to be ironic in that dystopian way we’ve grown accustomed to since the Freddie Gray uprising of nearly five springs ago. Read more…

Staged panhandler killing played on worst stereotypes of Baltimore, unwarranted fear of homeless
Baltimore Sun, March 4, 2019
What police now say was a false story of a Good Samaritan from Harford County being killed after giving money to a panhandler in East Baltimore played on the worst stereotypes of the city and created widespread — and unwarranted — hysteria about the threats posed by the homeless, Baltimore officials say. Police concluded that the killing of Jacquelyn Smith in December was not, in fact, committed by a robber pretending to thank her for handing a few dollars out the car window to a panhandling woman with a baby in her arms, as her husband and stepdaughter tearfully claimed. Read more…


Baltimore trying to stem decades-long disappearing act
AP News, December 29, 2018
LaShelle Rollins’ rental house in West Baltimore is wedged between a line of derelict properties valued only by street gangs, drug addicts and firefighters conducting arson drills. And even though her family’s $700-a-month address sits across from a public school, they are among the only occupants of this desolate block. Life in an emptied-out, rundown cityscape is a slog and Rollins is worn out by all of it: The sounds of late-night interlopers stomping down the stairs of a musty wreck next door; a constant fear of fire set by vandals; the social isolation; the rats. With no faith in a prompt police response, they keep a bat at the ready. Read more…

Neighbors hope Pimlico Race Course redevelopment in Baltimore would spur jobs, revitalize area
Baltimore Sun, December 13, 2018
In the four decades Maurice Braxton has been cutting hair in Park Heights, he said he’s watched the neighborhood change for the worse. But the master barber at Park Heights Barber Shop is hopeful the latest proposition to revitalize Pimlico Race Course could reverse the surrounding community’s fate. “I got faith, I got hope that this ain’t gonna remain the same forever,” he said. Read more…

By the numbers: Baltimore neighborhood where woman was killed helping panhandler challenged by many measures
Baltimore Sun, December 4, 2018
Johnston Square is the East Baltimore neighborhood where a Harford County engineer was stabbed to death early Saturday morning after she gave money to a woman panhandling in the rain who appeared to have a baby with her. By many measures, it is one of Baltimore’s most impoverished and challenged neighborhoods, according to the “Vital Signs” report compiled by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance — Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore. The alliance analyzes data for 55 “community statistical areas” in Baltimore, with Johnston Square falling into the Greenmount East area. Read more…

Poor communities can be left behind during hiring booms, study shows
PBS News Hour, October 19, 2018
A healthy dose of job growth has long been seen as a likely cure for poverty. But new research suggests that poor Americans are frequently left behind even when their cities or communities benefit from hiring booms. When such cities as Atlanta and Charlotte enjoyed a job surge in the 20 years that began in 1990, for example, the job gains mostly bypassed residents — often African-American — who had been born into poverty. Read more…

Opinion: Central MD Can Recover From Loss of Red Line Light Rail Project – By Building It
Maryland Matters, September 7, 2018
Baltimore’s 2019-2022 Transportation Improvement Plan project viewer depicted below shows with a single purple dot the only mass transit project to be constructed in Baltimore City over the next four years. Using a combination of federal and state dollars, the Kirk Division Bus Facility is to be replaced. Red dots denote highway “preservation” projects. These are largely maintenance projects including road repaving, repair to bridges, upgraded street lighting and improved stormwater drainage. In other words, the Transportation Improvement Plan for the next four years includes not one actual transportation project. Is there any mystery why Baltimore will not grow? Read more…

Clipper Mill owner plans more apartments, worrying neighbors of the historic enclave
Baltimore Sun, June 13, 2018
A developer wants to complete the transformation of the historic cotton mill complex of Clipper Mill by tripling the number of apartments there, a proposal that is raising questions about traffic, parking, and how much is too much from residents in the area. Read more…

A Look at the Census Demographics for South Baltimore Neighborhoods
SouthBaltimore.com, May 29, 2018
The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) recently released its Vital Signs 16. This report details demographic and socioeconomic data from the United States Bureau of the Census about the people who live in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. Vital Signs 16 looks at 2016 data in comparison to previous years. Read more…

In 2010, Baltimore had 16,800 vacants. Eight years and millions of dollars later, the number is down to 16,500
Baltimore Sun, April 26, 2018
Eight years and tens of millions of dollars later, officials count 16,500 vacant buildings in the city. The city faces two principle obstacles to putting a dent in that number: the lengthy legal process it must follow to take control of buildings, and the rate at which people are leaving Baltimore. Read more…

Your Friendly Neighborhood Gentrification: Baltimore in Search of Heroes
The Retriever, April 25, 2018
The ‘Redevelopment and Justice in Baltimore’ Humanities Forum last Wednesday discussed the issues of gentrification in the wake of social and economic turmoil. A panel of influential officials turned eyes and ears towards the destruction of history and representation in the wake of urban renewal. Moreover, this expert panel interpreted the at-risk and disadvantaged populations in light of capital investment. From charts to story-telling, this event encompassed the diminished state of what once was an industrial-booming metropolis. Read more…

Rodricks: For Baltimore’s vacant homes, why not a buyer’s club?
Baltimore Sun, April 18, 2018
Once upon a time in Baltimore, you could have seen members of the same family, or workers from the same company, living on the same street, sometimes in adjoining rowhouses. Once upon a time, after the waves of immigrants that filled the town in the 19th and 20th centuries, Baltimore had several ethnic enclaves, and they lasted for generations. A lot of this resulted from the pointing of fingers: Great-great-grandfather got off the boat at Locust Point and someone pointed him toward a neighborhood where he could afford a room, hear his native language, and meet a future wife from his former country. Read more…

Census: Frederick County outpaced other Maryland counties in population growth
The Frederick News-Post, March 23, 2018
An influx of residents from other parts of the country drove Frederick County’s population growth from 2016 to 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 population estimates. The 1.7 percent increase in residents — from 247,881 in 2016 to 252,022 in 2017, was the largest percentage increase among Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore city, according to the data published Thursday. It also represents the highest single-year increase Frederick County has experienced since the 2010 census. Read more…

North American Organizations Exchange Lessons in Localizing the SDGs
IISD, March 1, 2018
22 February 2018: The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) organized a webinar on localizing the SDGs in the North American context, featuring examples of sub-national efforts in British Columbia, Hawai’i, Winnipeg, and Baltimore. Jennifer Temmer, IISD, moderated the discussion and highlighted that all of the initiatives participating in the webinar seek to bring the SDGs “closer to home in order to stimulate and inspire progress at the local level.” Read more…

Broken Police Part 4: Views on police differ by neighborhood
MarylandReporter.com, January 24, 2018
In East Baltimore’s Butchers Hill, neighbors worry about muggings and stolen bikes. A few miles away, in Belair-Edison, residents fear shootings are on the rise. Across town, in Seton Hill, people worry about property theft. Baltimoreans say they are tired of crime. They say they want the police to do something about it, and that they want to be able to trust the officers. But that’s not easy when the police force is under federal orders to reform itself, the homicide count has topped 300 yet again, and crime is an issue in every part of the city. Read more…

Did Baltimore’s rash of bad news push Amazon away?
Baltimore Sun, January 18, 2018
Baltimore was already coming off a string of bad news — record homicides, unheated schools, an alleged patient dumping — when Thursday morning brought yet more: The city had failed to make the list of 20 finalists for Amazon’s much-coveted second headquarters. Did the former contribute to the latter? Read more…

Cold classrooms, patient dumping: Baltimore tries to put its best foot forward, stumbles
Baltimore Sun, January 12, 2018
Kids in parkas, hoods up and huddled together in an unheated school classroom. A woman in a hospital gown, ousted from an emergency room and left at a bus stop on a freezing night. Winter has not been kind to Baltimore, or its already battered image. The photos and videos sped through social media sites on their way to national news broadcasts. The city, long accustomed to making the news for crime and drugs, now appeared more broadly dysfunctional, unable to handle even the seemingly basic tasks of repairing broken school boilers or sheltering a vulnerable woman. Read more…

Baltimore ranks near bottom of ‘Best Places to Find Jobs’ list again
WBAL, January 2, 2018
A new year in Baltimore brings a grim ranking on a list of best places to find a job. The consumer website WalletHub ranks Baltimore even lower than last year on its list, Best Places to Find a Job. The new study underlines disparity between Baltimore and surrounding suburbs. Columbia is 15th on the new list while Baltimore City is closer to the bottom. Read more…


Living with a roommate in Baltimore? You’re part of a growing trend, report says
Baltimore Sun, December 20, 2017
When Tessa Trach sat down to work out a budget for her first job after college one thing was immediately clear: She needed a roommate. “I didn’t even think about living by myself,” said Trach, 22, who lives in Federal Hill with three roommates. “I knew it would be too expensive.” Cohabitation is hardly a new trend among young adults starting out on their own, but a recent report suggests that more working-age adults are living with a roommate than ever before. Read more…

Baltimore Data Day is looking to the neighborhoods
Technical.ly, October 4, 2017
It’s all in the name for a tool that is shaking up traditional data collection in Baltimore. GEOLOOM co>map was designed to promote the development of creative placemaking in the city through arts and culture, with an emphasis on community being greater than the map. Read more…

Growth in Johnston Square is around the corner — and inside a shuttered favorite restaurant
Baltimore Sun, September 17, 2017
A little more than a decade ago, the Yellow Bowl Restaurant drew a broad cross-section of Baltimore to Johnston Square, the impoverished neighborhood boxed in between the Jones Falls Expressway, the Maryland Penitentiary and Green Mount Cemetery. During evenings at the restaurant, the city’s political elite, prison guards and neighbors home from work sat elbow to elbow, enjoying what many considered the best soul food in town. Read more…

Gentrification threatens diversity of Baltimore neighborhoods
Baltimore Sun, June 14, 2017
A report by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) celebrates as “global neighborhoods” six city communities that are remarkably diverse in racial and ethnic composition. Their development is seen as challenging the assumption of Baltimore as a city segregated into predominantly black or white areas, taken by many as a positive sign. But gentrification, an often exclusionary form of urban development, threatens to reverse it all. Read more…

In Baltimore, six pockets of racial diversity
Baltimore Sun, May 30, 2017
Digging through demographic data, Seema Iyer made a surprising find: There are six communities in Baltimore of remarkable diversity — so much so that no one racial or ethnic group constitutes a majority in any of them. Iyer, whose background is in urban and regional planning, is associate director of the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore. Each year, the institute collaborates with the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance to measure the quality of life in the city. They do this by looking at more than 100 factors — housing and neighborhood trends, changes in population, income and poverty, crime, transportation, and so on. Read more…

City-owned vacants decline under Vacants to Value program
Baltimore Sun, May 11, 2017
Baltimore’s Vacants to Value program, a city initiative to address blighted neighborhoods, has reduced the number of city-owned vacant properties and helped spur economic development in some neighborhoods, according to a new report on the program. The five-year evaluation of former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s signature housing program comes as the city’s new mayor moves forward with plans to overhaul the city’s housing and planning departments, and shapes her own strategy for reducing blight in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. Read more…

Baltimore City Partners with University of Baltimore to Expand Open Data Portal
Civ Source, May 3, 2017
The city of Baltimore is partnering with the University of Baltimore and the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance to enhance information sharing and data accessibility on the city’s open data portal. Read more…

There’s a new way to access this year’s Vital Signs report
Technical.ly, April 19, 2017
Through Esri, BNIA is making the indicators in the report available for thorough consumption. BNIA Associate Director Seema Iyer said the University of Baltimore-based center wants to make the data more accessible. Read more…

Drilling into Baltimore’s population loss
Baltimore Sun, March 28, 2017
Conventional thinking has always linked population loss with high crime rates and inadequate public schools, and those are still valid. But BNIA researchers found that a long commute to work had a stronger correlation with neighborhood distress, especially in regard to population loss.  Read more…

Baltimore population falls, nearing 100-year low, US Census says
Baltimore Sun, March 23, 2017
The trends vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, said Iyer, who drills into the figures each year for the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance annual report. She said churn is to be expected — the losses come when neighborhoods don’t attract new families to move in. Read more…

Baltimore is using the SDGs to build a more just city
GreenBiz, March 20, 2017
A robust conversation around citizen-generated data already had been growing in Baltimore for years. And SCI-Baltimore was able to bring in a central player, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA), housed at the University of Baltimore. Read more…


A $225 million investment in Baltimore
The Baltimore Sun, October 20, 2016
We at BNIA-JFI were inching toward the policy recommendation of housing vouchers for all who qualify, eliminating the wait list, when 2015’s civil unrest took place in Baltimore. We put together some discussion points on the housing problem — the data, the pros of adopting such a policy, the back-of-the-envelope costs of accommodating 15,000 more households.  Read more…

10 ideas from Baltimore leaders on how tech can have a voice at City Hall
Technical.ly, October 12, 2016
Technologists and entrepreneurs are reshaping cities like Baltimore with companies that bring new residents and products that change how we interact with the landscape. With a new mayor set to take office in Baltimore following the November 8 general election, it’s worth considering what the tech community wants to see at City Hall. There’s already energy around using tech to make change. Baltimore is seen as a pioneer in open data efforts, and civic hacking has taken root in various forms as the tech scene has grown. Conversation at a recent Technical.ly Baltimore stakeholder meeting held during Baltimore Innovation Week 2016 indicated that there is more room for the government and tech community to work together. Read more…

How Baltimore Became America’s Laboratory for Spy Tech

Wired, September 3, 2016
If you live in Baltimore, you may have the feeling that you’re being watched. You are. Baltimore Police track your cellphone use without a warrant. They secretly film the entire city from the air. And as concerns about the uses and privacy implications of that next-generation surveillance tech have mounted, these domestic spying scandals also raise another question: Why Baltimore? It turns out that Baltimore checks off all the requirements to build a modern American urban panopticon: High crime rates, racially biased policing, strained community-police relations, and lack of police oversight have turned Baltimore into a laboratory of emerging surveillance techniques. Read more…

Battling Baltimore vacants, whether owned by speculators or the city
Baltimore Brew, July 22, 2016
A group of men loitering outside a corner store scatter as Joyce Smith walks a reporter up to a couple of rowhouses in a roughed-up Southwest Baltimore neighborhood known as Shipley Hill. Choked with weeds, vines and debris, the two attached houses are both slated for demolition – but the process has stalled for over a year. Read more…

Mapping Baltimore: A layered look at our city–neighborhood by neighborhood
City Paper, June 28, 2016
The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute used 2010 U.S. Census data to map diversity in the city. Diversity is statistically defined as “the percent chance that two people picked at random within an area will be of a different race/ethnicity. Read more…

Your City Needs a Local Data Intermediary Now
Next City, May 31, 2016
With BNIA’s help, national and local media outlets, including the New York TimesMSNBC and the Baltimore Sun portrayed a community beset by concentrated poverty, while other Baltimore neighborhoods benefited from economic investment and rising incomes. BNIA data, which is updated yearly, has also been used to develop policy ideas to revitalize the neighborhood, from increasing the use of housing choice vouchers to tackling unemployment. Read more…

Check out these 4 revealing maps of Baltimore’s health and crime stats
Technical.ly, March 8, 2016
The Baltimore City Health Department is rolling out maps to visualize health data. Developed by city epidemiologists, an initial group of four maps forms the foundation of a gallery that the Health Department hopes to add to over time. Read more…

3 data-backed ways to make Baltimore neighborhoods more equitable
Technical.ly Baltimore, January 12, 2016
Before releasing this year’s Vital Signs in a couple of months, the staff at BNIA-JFI dug into the data they already have, and found some takeaways. They boiled it down to three goals for city leaders and advocates to focus on as they look to stave off population losses in a new report called “What Happened in Baltimore and What Can We Do? A Neighborhood’s Perspective,” which was published last week. The idea is to connect all of the dots that are plotted on many maps of the city that the University of Baltimore-based organization produces.  Read more…

Three things to make a better Baltimore
Baltimore Sun, January 12, 2016
With his plans to improve mass transit (Baltimore Link) and to fund the demolition of vacant houses (Project CORE), Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has picked two of the most important things that could be done to improve life in Baltimore. There’s a third thing he could do — use his influence as a popular governor and businessman to encourage the development of more affordable housing throughout the region — but targeting millions in state funds for better bus routes and urban renewal puts Hogan on the same page with University of Baltimore researchers who’ve used deep-dig data to come up with a prescription for a better city. Read more…

West Baltimore Will Get a $700 Million Makeover—Just Not the One It Needs
CityLab, January 11, 2016
Last week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake his new plan for revitalizing West Baltimore called Project C.O.R.E., a $700 million commitment to, above all things, eradicate blight. He made the announcement in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, the home of Freddie Gray, the young black man whose death while in police custody helped spark the uprising that helped fix the governor’s attention on West Baltimore. Read more…


Yet another dividing line in Baltimore: property taxes
Baltimore Sun, December 16, 2015
Most of us have known for a long time that there are really two Baltimores, and we think we know the dividing lines that perpetuate this tale of two cities. Severe economic inequality, racial tension, disparate access to basic services — like food, transportation, health care and affordable housing — all separate the two Baltimores and keep them apart. But an effective strategy for reuniting Baltimore may rest in an understanding of another crucial dividing line: unequal treatment within the city’s unfair property tax structure. Read more…

Better transportation key to Baltimore’s future
Baltimore Sun, November 18, 2015
For many years, Baltimore’s economy was fueled by a strong transportation system, with a port and rail lines that made Baltimore an economic engine for the nation. Its comprehensive streetcar system allowed people from virtually anywhere in the city to reach good jobs affordably and easily. Today, unfortunately, our transportation system is failing to meet our regional economic needs. That finding is embedded in a new evaluation that measures how transportation affects people across the region: families, workers, job-seekers and employers. Read more…

Baltimore riots have spurred discussion of better trains to combat crushing poverty
Business Insider, June 18, 2015
Maryland officials are eyeing a $2.9 billion light rail project long in the works for Baltimore as a way of combating the crushing poverty that fueled rioting in the city after the police-custody death of Freddie Gray. Backers say the proposed Red Line light rail project could speed city residents to jobs and help end the isolation of poor neighborhoods, some of which still bear the scars of race riots in the 1960s. Read more…

3 Baltimore Data Points this City Researcher is Paying Close Attention to
Technical.ly Baltimore, June 1, 2015
Iyer said it can be a struggle to get data from the city and state. But once the group gets it, BNIA releases it to all for use through Baltimore City’s open data portal, and its own website.  Read more…

New Data: Baltimore, still hyper-segregated but (almost) growing
Community Architect Daily, May 21, 2015
It is another “Big Data” day for Baltimore and as we have started to get used to, the numbers aren’t always good. A new Massey report shows that the number of hyper-segregated metro areas in the US has almost halfed, but Baltimore remains among those cities that still are. Read more…

New Study Highlights An Increase Attraction To Charm City
CBS Baltimore, May 21, 2015
A new study details what draws people to live in Baltimore, and what drives them out of the city. Alex DeMetrick reports, it’s information the mayor hopes will ultimately help grow Baltimore. After decades of decline, people are moving into Baltimore. “We are experiencing a renaissance. New families, millennials and new companies are increasingly choosing to make Baltimore home,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Read more…

Why People Are Leaving (or Staying) In Baltimore
WYPR 88.1FM, May 21, 2015
People who moved out of Baltimore in the last year and a half did so to get away from trash, property crimes, vacant houses, a high property tax rate and poor performing schools. And those who stayed said they like affordable housing, the ability to walk to work and a strong sense of community. Those are the results of an 18-month study by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance released Thursday at the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute. Read more…

Keeping millennials in Baltimore remains a challenge
Baltimore Business Journal, May 21, 2015
Everyone wants millennials in their town. But once you have them, how do you keep them? That’s the big question for Baltimore. A new study showed millennials make up 63 percent of the population moving into Baltimore, but they also account for 53 percent of the population moving out, according to data presented Thursday by Live Baltimore and the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance. Read more…

Report examines why residents stay in and leave Baltimore
Baltimore Sun, May 20, 2015
More families are still leaving Baltimore than moving in, and while many of the reasons are well known, a new analysis of where they land and why has made city officials and advocates believe their efforts are changing attitudes — and some decisions. It’s no longer a given that people who move to the city for college or their first job will leave once it’s time to buy a house, a bigger home or send their kids to school, according to the city officials who plan to release the report Thursday during a news conference led by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Read more…

There are no ‘two Baltimores’
Boston Globe, May 10, 2015
For most Baltimoreans, the riots that broke out earlier this month started at a place immediately familiar — Mondawmin Mall on the city’s west side. I personally know the shopping center by its nickname “Murder Mall,” a widely used shorthand that references its proximity to violent neighborhoods in a city where a person is killed at least every other day. Tourists rarely venture to Mondawmin and its environs, but longtime residents know the area well for a mundane reason: For 40 years, the shopping complex included a surprisingly efficient motor vehicle administration office. So the boarded-up homes, the carry-outs, the liquor stores that served as a backdrop to the unrest were nothing new to Baltimoreans. Read more…

The challenges of Baltimore (and the nation) in context
Brookings Institute, May 7, 2015
No fires burned, and no stores were looted in my Baltimore neighborhood last week. The same held true for most across the region. Still, it was impossible to see these events unfold here and not be heartbroken by not only the harm they inflicted—on people, on businesses—but by the broader circumstances and conditions in which they took place. Read more…

There are Plenty More Baltimores
City Lab, May 4, 2015
To get to Sandtown-Winchester, Freddie Gray’s neighborhood and the neighborhood where he was killed, you’ll need to exit the highway and travel west on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Soon you will pass the gleaming football and baseball stadiums, million dollar monuments to the Baltimore Ravens and Baltimore Orioles. Off to your right, the Inner Harbor beckons, a beacon of successful economic redevelopment. Around the Harbor, ritzy hotels and expensive condominiums abound. Over the past two decades, downtown Baltimore has been revitalized into a walkable, welcoming, vital place. Read more…

In 2 Baltimore neighborhoods, infant mortality is higher than in the West Bank
Vox, May 4, 2015
Little Italy and Canton are two nearby neighborhoods in Baltimore. It’s about 1.5 miles from one to the other, either seven minutes by car or a half-hour walk. But for a newborn baby, the neighborhoods couldn’t be further apart. Kids born in Little Italy are more than 10 times as likely to die before their first birthday as those born in Canton. Read more…

A Portrait of the Sandtown Neighborhood in Baltimore
New York Times, May 3, 2015
Freddie Gray grew up in Sandtown-Winchester, a Baltimore neighborhood that has been depressed for decades. It takes a long memory to recall when the neighborhood was a different place, but in the 1950s and ’60s, Billie Holiday and Diana Ross performed in venues on nearby Pennsylvania Avenue, and some referred to the area as “Baltimore’s Harlem.” Read more…

Sandtown-Winchester ranks well below city average in most health factors
Baltimore Sun, April 30, 2015
The Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park* neighborhoods, thrust into the national spotlight over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, have long been home to some of the worst living conditions in Baltimore. Explore the rankings for city neighborhoods below based on several criteria, compared against the city averages. Read more…

Lead levels in Baltimore children
Washington Post, April 30, 2015
The map shows Baltimore neighborhoods where there were at least 400 lead tests for children under 7 between 2010 and 2013, and at least 1.5 percent showed an elevated level of lead. Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park, Freddie Gray’s neighborhood, has among the highest levels in the city. Read more…

Baltimore: The divided city where Freddie Gray lived and died
Al-Jazeera America, April 29, 2015
Payton Cross, a 50-year-old day laborer, remembers a quieter Sandtown-Winchester. The West Baltimore neighborhood — home to Freddie Gray, whose death after being detained by police has led to widespread unrest — was safe and economically sound during Cross’s teenage years. It was the kind of place where families scrubbed their front steps and looked after one another. Read more…

Baltimore riots flared up in a toxic environment
Grist, April 29, 2015
As Baltimore heals from the burns of the recent youth uprising against the police, there’s one part of the city that won’t be burning any time soon, and for good reason. Members of the youth-led activist group Free Your Voice rose up against the company Energy Answers and thwarted its plans to build an incinerator in the middle of their already beleaguered Curtis Bay community. By harnessing the energy of dance, poetry, and being just fucking young, members of the group lobbied city institutions that contracted with Energy Answers to buy electricity generated from incinerating trash and convinced them to cancel their agreement. The would-be buyers included the Baltimore Museum of Art, the city housing authority, and the city school district. The students’ energy was particularly effective in getting the schools to pull out of the deal. Read more…

These two maps show the shocking inequality  in Baltimore
Washington Post, April 28, 2015
“Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial,” my colleague Mike Fletcher wrote today. “Yet, the gaping disparities separating the haves and the have nots in Baltimore are as large as they are anywhere.” The two maps below offer a striking look at the two Baltimores, one affluent and predominately white, the other impoverished and largely black. Read more…


“Partner’s Perspective: NNIP and Open Data in Baltimore”
National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, August 2014
“The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership is a network of organizations in 36 cities across the nation. Local partners work to make data about neighborhoods more accessible and help local stakeholders apply data to tackle issues in their communities. Over the past three years, with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership explored how its partners relate to the open data movement and the potential for the two communities to wor k more closely together in the future. The report Putting Open Data to Work for Communities documents the broader lessons from the project. This Partner’s Perspective relates how the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance—Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI), the local National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership partner, is engaging with the open data movement in their community. Read more…

“Pigtown: From Baltimore’s hidden neighborhood to next big thing?
ABC 2 News, November 18, 2014
“It’s just steps from downtown Baltimore, the stadiums and the newly opened, multi-million dollar Horseshoe Casino. But Pigtown remains under developed; its full potential unrealized. Community leaders are hoping a new plan for the neighborhood will spur progress in Pigtown.” Read more…

City sees jump in young, college-educated residents
Baltimore Sun, October 26, 2014
It’s difficult for longtime Baltimoreans to say when exactly the young college graduates started moving into the neighborhoods clustered around downtown. But at some point they were everywhere, some 25,000 of them, toasting at bars, forming kickball leagues and jamming the free Circulator buses. Read more…

In Baltimore’s Park Heights, Gambling Dollars Bring Plans for Improvement, But Much Skepticism
Southern Maryland Online, June 22, 2014
If gambling helped revitalize neighborhoods, Park Heights should be among Baltimore’s finest. The neighborhood grew up just south of Pimlico Race Course—though most racing fans pay no attention to Park Heights and its decaying blocks. Then there’s the Maryland lottery. Park Heights and other low-income communities in the 21215 zip code spend more on lottery tickets than any other zip code in the state—$34 million in 2012, according to a Capital News Service analysis. Now, with the expansion of casinos in Maryland, Park Heights and its neighbors will receive about $4.5 million a year—a share of casino revenues—until 2032 to help redevelop the community by building new housing, creating new jobs and attracting new retailers. Read more…

“Vital Signs 12, New Website from Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance”
Technically Baltimore, May 7, 2014
“A new website launch coincided with the release of Vital Signs 12 from the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore. Since 2001 BNIA has been collecting quality-of-life data about Baltimore by dividing the city into 55 community statistical areas and tracking different neighborhood indicators. Vital Signs themselves are broad categories, like “Housing and Community Development,” while indicators are subsets of each category — for example, “Percentage of properties under mortgage foreclosure.” Read more…

“Baltimore Neighborhoods, By the Numbers”
Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast (WYPR), May 6, 2014 audio
We live in an age of big data. It tells us how our economy is doing, how our children are educated, and what our neighborhoods look like. Since 2002, The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance has been the foremost collector of neighborhood data in the city. It compiles about 8,000 data points to paint a picture of Baltimore, by the numbers. Yesterday, it released its latest compilation, Vital Signs 12. Joining Sheilah Kast to talk about it is Seema Iyer, Associate Director of the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore. Read more…


“Taking Baltimore’s Vital Signs
Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast (WYPR), April 30, 2013 audio
How do you understand a neighborhood? You can take a stroll around and see what the homes look like or you can ask people that live there what they think. But, now it’s easier than ever to look at the numbers; the numbers that tell you how walkable it is, how much homes are selling for, or even how many people have library cards. Read more…

Lifting up Park Heights by cracking down on liquor stores
Baltimore Brew, April 4, 2013
Just after 9 a.m. last Friday, men were already streaming into this corner store on Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore to buy cigarettes, lottery tickets and single 24-ounce cans of beer. Patrons hanging out near the ATM machine teased a young man who was putting $2 into the revolving plexiglass pass-through, to pay for his extra-large beer: “Hey, you’re under-age, getting that thing!” Block’s Discount Liquors clerk Jason Kim, whose wife has owned the small Park Heights establishment for five years, sighed, hearing about it later: “You do know they were joking, don’t you?” Read more…


“Maryland leads nation in foreclosures”
Washington Examiner, August 11, 2012
Maryland had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate this spring, a new survey has found, and the flood on the market could drag down home values in the state. Nearly 2 percent — or 20,000 — of Maryland’s 1.1 million loans included in the survey were moved into foreclosure between April and June, according to a new survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Read more…

“On data, dilapidation and defiance”
Baltimore Brew, July 16, 2012
I went to Baltimore Data Day on Friday knowing I’d find facts and figures. But I wasn’t quite prepared for how many people I’d encounter who were so angry about them. It was… energizing. “This Data Day – can it really help a community like Cherry Hill?” asked a skeptical Michael Middleton of the Cherry Hill Development Corporation, addressing the audience. Read more…

“Baltimore Data Day puts big data in communities’ hands”
Technically Baltimore, July 13, 2012
At today’s Data Day, community leaders from around Baltimore City, working in nonprofits, civic- and faith-based groups, and government agencies, will begin examining 55,000 individual data points—100 separate data points collected in 55 communities throughout the city—while exploring how the intersection of community-based data and technology can assist neighborhoods’ efforts toward improvement. Read more…

Stronger neighborhoods, stronger Baltimore
Baltimore Sun, June 18, 2012
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s vision of increasing Baltimore City’s population by 22,500 people over the next 10 years is the kind of ambitious goal we should enthusiastically embrace. More and new people bring new energy, new ideas, economic vitality and, very practically speaking, increased revenue for the services that keep the city vital. There are many challenges to achieving this goal — after all, like many other former industrial cities, Baltimore has consistently lost population over the past 50 years. To succeed, we’ll need to attract and retain jobs, make the streets cleaner and safer, fix the schools and reduce property taxes. And there is one more critical ingredient: making our neighborhoods attractive enough to hold onto current residents and attract new ones. Read more…

“Baltimore housing over the decade: less affordable, more likely to be fixed up”
Baltimore Sun, May 16, 2012
Rough economy notwithstanding, more Baltimore homes were getting face lifts at the end of the last decade than the start.That’s one of the bits of intel from the newest Vital Signs, an ongoing effort by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at the University of Baltimore to sign a light on how the city is changing. Statistics range from crime rates to employment rates. (City residents — pick your neighborhood from the Vital Signs map, and you can see where things stand near you.)  Read more…

“Baltimore’s Belair-Edison, Once a Vibrant Melting Pot, Slumps as Foreclosures Mount”
Capital News Source, May 12, 2012
For decades, middle-class families bought rowhouses in Belair-Edison and settled down on blocks where neighbors knew each other and kids played in the park. But as the recession recedes, this Northeast Baltimore community finds itself struggling. Foreclosures, predatory lenders, unemployment, subsidized rentals all have frayed the connections that residents here prized. Read more…

“Vital Signs 10”
Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast, WYPR, May 11, 2012 audio
Each year, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) releases Vital Signs, a portrait of the city’s neighborhoods in data. The report includes what you might expect—graduation rates, crime rates, foreclosure rates—and what you might not expect, such as how often residents report dirty streets and alleys, or how many people are getting to work without a car. Read more…


“Foreclosure crisis rippling out putting city neighborhoods on the offensive”
ABC2 News, November 2, 2011 video
There are perhaps no better images that better reflect a rotting urban core than a row of vacant rowhomes. Today, veritable ghost towns of what were once healthy urban neighborhoods; occupied now by over grown trees, trash…and rats. Vermin are the indicator of a growing systemic problem few residents are willing to ignore. Read more…




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Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance
The Jacob France Institute
1420 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
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