News Coverage

Baltimore spending more construction dollars in poor neighborhoodsDaily  Record September 5, 2019

Executive Summary

Baltimore has often been cited as one of the most segregated cities in the US[1], and to overcome this persistent reality will require intentional action to address the legacy effects of historical and current practices and policies. The Baltimore City Department of Planning has chosen to conduct an equity analysis of the City’s billion dollar Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is the subject of this report, as a critical first step towards addressing inequities in neighborhood investments.

This report uses an equity lens to analyze capital budget investments. The main goals of the analyses in this report were 1) to establish a methodology for distributing the influence of various kinds of CIP investments to neighborhoods, and 2) to track these investments across different measures of equity over time.

Using a new methodology to distribute different kinds of CIP allocations to communities, allocations were calculated for all 55 Community Statistical Areas (CSAs) in Baltimore and measured along key indicators that help to quantify the four areas of equity.

Key Takeaways:

Distributional Equity— Race and Income

  • From FY 14-16 and FY 15-17, per capita spending allocated to neighborhoods with the highest percentage of Black/AA residents (>92%) was only half of that allocated to areas to the lowest percentage Black/AA ($3,849.32 versus $7,167.43). The total per capita CIP allocation in communities with more than 92% Black/African American residents increased by the greatest amount across all groupings, from $3,850 per person during FY14-16 to $9,664 during FY18-20. Although the CIP allocation has progressed towards a more equal distribution over time, with a more equal level spending between areas with the highest and lowest rates of Black/African American population, this does not yet represent a redistributive allocation pattern to overcome years of unequal investments.
  • Communities with the highest and the lowest median incomes had less than half of CIP allocations occurring in the middle income neighborhoods. For example, communities with less than $33,999 median income had less than half the per capita CIP allocation than that occurring in communities with slightly higher median income (between $34,000 and $39,999). The City might may want to consider using income as a criteria for future CIP allocations.

Structural Equity—Vacancy and Life Expectancy

  • The greatest increases in per capita CIP allocation has occurred within communities with between 4% and 14.9% vacant buildings, but remained flat in communities with greater than 15 percent vacancy. While demolitions of blighted properties in high vacancy neighborhoods has increased since 2015, these kinds of investments are not included in this analysis as they are part of the bulk (non-mapped) CIP accounts. It is highly recommended that City agencies establish a process for reporting on bulk account expenditures to DOP as part of the annual Equity Assessment Program. One possibility is to adopt an open data system for expenditures such as Open Checkbook in New York City. Of top priority would be the kinds of expenditures that improve quality of life in neighborhoods such as blight elimination, road resurfacing and other aesthetic improvements.
  • The per capita CIP allocation for communities with life expectancy just below the citywide average (70 to 72 years) was approximately double that to any other kind of community. Communities with the lowest life expectancy (less than 70 years) consistently had less than half of the per capita CIP allocation. Agencies may want to consider life expectancy in neighborhoods as a factor in formulating CIP requests in the future.

Procedural Equity—Plan Year

  • Many communities in Baltimore have plans or studies that involve intense visioning and planning processes that bring residents, neighborhood groups, businesses and city agencies together to plan for the future of a smaller area. The process of creating an area plan helps all stakeholders in the neighborhood coordinate resources from public agencies, which could be included into agency priorities within the CIP. Having a more recently adopted plan does seem to have a relationship to how CIP dollars are distributed. In all time periods, neighborhoods with plans adopted more recently than 2015 had a higher per capita allocation than those with plans adopted before 2015. From a procedural perspective, communities with older plans (or no plan) should begin the process of adopting a small area plan so that CIP projects can be planned with community input.

Transgenerational Equity—Age

  • While communities with different rates of seniors and school age children seemed to experience equal CIP allocations, per capita CIP allocations have consistently been greatest in communities with the lowest percentage of children under five. Per capita allocation in communities with the highest under five population has increased over the time periods examined, but it is still not as high as the allocation in communities with the lowest under five population. The City may wish to consider neighborhoods with very young children as a criteria for prioritizing future CIP investments, particularly those that affect children.

[1] Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton (1989) “Hypersegregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas: Black and Hispanic Segregation along Five Dimensions” in Demography, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 373-391

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Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance
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