Broken Police Part 4: Views on police differ by neighborhood, 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…

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, 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…

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, 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…

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…

3 data-backed ways to make Baltimore neighborhoods more equitable 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…

3 Baltimore Data Points this City Researcher is Paying Close Attention to 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…

Grow Baltimore

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…

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…

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…

Inequality in Baltimore & Neighborhood Context

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…

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…

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…

Regional Housing Plan

“The Opportunity Collaborative releases Strong Communities, Strong Region”
The Opportunity Collaborative, January 2015
“The Baltimore region will gain economic strength by having communities that provide jobs for its residents, high quality schools, and affordable housing/transportation infrastructure to support those needs. The regional housing plan makes recommendations for achieving the regional goal of creating healthy communities where more residents are able to contribute positively to the regional economy. The plan also highlights the challenges facing 70,000 Baltimore-area families paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent that need homes that are affordable and accessible. With the guidance of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, the Innovative Housing Institute, BAE Urban Economics; the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance–Jacob France Institute; and the Housing Strategies Group of the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland carried out the research plan. The plan was guided by the Opportunity Collaborative Housing Committee, a diverse set of advisors made up of local and state government representatives, housing development organizations, and housing advocates. The full study can be found here.

Open Data

“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…

Vital Signs 12

“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…

“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…


“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…

“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…

Baltimore Data Day 2012

“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…

Vital Signs 11

“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…

Vital Signs 10

“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…

“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…

Rats/Vacant Homes

“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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The Jacob France Institute
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