Crime is down and property values are up in the area
near The Johns Hopkins Hospital where
East Baltimore Development Inc.'s $1.8 billion
revitalization is well under way, according to a study by
five students in the university's Master of Public Policy
As the capstone project in the course Policy Analysis
for the Real World, students examined
Baltimore housing and crime statistics as well as census
data to observe changes that have occurred in
the area before and after EBDI's acquisition, demolition
and construction began six years ago.
Trends varied within the EBDI revitalization area,
according to Sandee Newman, professor and
director of the Institute
for Policy Studies, who teaches the annual course. In
the area near the
hospital, where most project activities have taken place to
date, changes are positive: These include a
50 percent decrease in adult violent crime, a 200 percent
property appreciation rate and a 17
percentage point decline in abandonment levels. Farther
away from the hospital, where revitalization
activities have yet to begin, changes were mixed:
Properties appreciated by 30 percent, while
abandonment increased by 10 percentage points.
EBDI was one of five city revitalizations in progress
evaluated by student teams, Newman said.
The others were Sandtown-Winchester, Bon Secours, Station
North and Poppleton.
Each year, the semester-long study of Baltimore gives
Newman's students a strong foundation
on which to build their future as public policy analysts.
Of the six different analyses on which the
students work during the term, one focuses on a public
policy problem in Baltimore and aims to find a
solution. The students conducted the work during the fall
2008 semester and presented their findings
to city officials and neighborhood association leaders in
December. IPS will publish the final study
Newman said that revitalization was an intriguing
topic for her students because such initiatives
are often plagued by issues of perception versus reality.
Because revitalization projects usually involve
public intervention, people affected by the plans sometimes
make negative assumptions about changes
without having all the facts. Part of the problem, Newman
said, is that nobody studies the work in
progress the way her students did this past fall.
"Everybody has tremendous interest in all the
revitalization going on in Baltimore, but we don't
have a lot of information about the projects while they are
still in progress," Newman said. "Most of
the attention is focused on the end game of revitalization,
but we realized that the process also
brings with it measurable change that is worth looking at
and may be a marker for what will happen
down the line."
Newman also asked the student groups to conduct a
"spillover analysis," moving out from the
center of the area each studied to see if they could find
whether the benefits or costs of
neighborhood revitalization activities to date are
In the case of EBDI, the students determined that it's
too early to tell how surrounding
neighborhoods targeted by later phases of the project will
fare in terms of crime and property values,
according to Kelly Biscuso, one of the students who studied
the EBDI initiative.
"We did not observe any speculative buying in the
areas targeted for later phases of the EBDI
development," Biscuso said. "We observed either no change,
evidenced by patterns of distress
mirroring the other neighborhoods around it, or potentially
a disinvestment in the area due to
uncertainty — people might not be sure this is going
to work. Those who are homeowners might assume
their homes will be taken by eminent domain and be
disinclined to invest in them. But it's really too
early to tell."
An audio recording of the students' presentation is
available online at: