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Why People Are Leaving (or Staying) In Baltimore

P. Kenneth Burns

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.

The study is part of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s “Grow Baltimore” initiative; aiming to grow the city by 10,000 families.

The city has gained some population. The  U.S. Census Bureau estimates Baltimore’s population at 622,793 as of last year; a 0.3 percent increase over the 2010 count of 620,961.

Rawlings-Blake said she was encouraged by the numbers.

“We’re seeing some positive trends for population growth and, more importantly, we’re seeing a collaborative and intentional effort on taking advantage of those things that are pulling people to Baltimore as well as collaborating on those factors that are pushing people out of the city and improving those,” she said.

The study also looked at population changes and migration trends within the city. Baltimore experienced significant growth downtown and in Harbor East due to new residential developments.  Meanwhile, East Baltimore communities in Greenmount East, Clifton-Berea and Midway/Coldstream saw population decreases.

Many city homeowners move within the same community.  North Baltimore/Guilford/Homeland topped that list.

Getting Families To Stay

Live Baltimore, a non-profit that promotes city living, launched a “Way to Stay” initiative in April, using information from the study.

A website portal for the initiative has maps of the city by public school zone, how to navigate the charter school process and parent groups in neighborhoods, among other resources.

Steve Gondol, Live Baltimore executive director, said information from the study helped to shape “Way to Stay” and called the portal one of the most comprehensive sites in the country for a city hoping to retain families.

“We went from one page of content to now 25 pages of content dedicated to families,” he said, adding that parents wanted one location to find information about city life for families.