Community In Motion Christine Rowett ---------------------------------- Homewood News and Information Standing on St. Paul Street just a few blocks from the Homewood campus, Patricia Fern ndez-Kelly (above) points to the Orient Express restaurant. "Do you know Fidel?" she asks, referring to restaurant owner Fidel Andino. "He is from El Salvador. He came here and now he cooks Chinese food. His is a great story." Her enthusiasm illustrates the support and interest Fern ndez-Kelly has for the businesses and residents of Baltimore City areas including Charles Village, where she has lived for almost 10 years. Fern ndez-Kelly, a research scientist at the Institute for Policy Studies, recently completed a 135-page report titled "Greater Homewood: A Blueprint for Community Action," which details the history, dynamics and forces of several neighborhoods surrounding and including Hopkins. The work also identifies five areas for improvement and action. The study was prepared, in part, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, an umbrella organization of neighborhood associations. More than 25 community and business leaders were drafted to contribute to the compilation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Health, city and Hopkins security records and on-the-street interviews; subcommittees were later created to focus on specific areas. Hopkins, Union Memorial Hospital and the GHCC sponsored the study, which was conducted over a six-month period beginning in November 1994. "I think that because 5,300 Hopkins students, faculty and staff live in the area, we have a great interest," university vice president Ross Jones said. "It is incumbent upon the university to work with the community to address our problems as well as our opportunities." For the purpose of the study, researchers divided the area-- which includes about 22 neighborhoods--into four clusters based on common social and historical factors: Cluster 1, which includes Guilford and Roland Park; Cluster 2, referred to as Greater Waverly; Cluster 3, including Hampden and Remington; and Cluster 4, Charles Village. About 77,000 residents live in the combined areas. "Greater Homewood is an area that is energized by a lot of diversity, in terms of racial and gender composition, income levels and educational attainment," Fern ndez-Kelly said. "Of course, it also has the tremendous attractions of Johns Hopkins and the Baltimore Museum of Art. It is, indeed, an enviable place to live." She believes the area is not unlike the city in general and is, in fact, a "microcosm of the whole country." The northern portions of Greater Homewood, including Roland Park, were developed in the 19th century on a few large estates owned by wealthy families. Waverly, in contrast, originated as a village and became a neighborhood for less affluent white families. In the 1970s the demographics changed with the influx of African Americans, mostly from North and South Carolina. "[Waverly] is now a predominantly black neighborhood whose fortunes hang by a string," the report states. "It persists as a vibrant and diversified working class community, which is being favored by young professionals in search of affordable homes." What most people don't know, Fern ndez-Kelly said, is that the company that developed Roland Park also developed Waverly for working class families who wanted to imitate the lifestyles of Roland Park residents. The Hampden area began as neighborhoods of families employed by the grist and textile mills along what were the Jones Falls. When industrial employment opportunities dwindled in the 1960s, the neighborhoods dwindled, though they have retained their blue-collar identity. Charles Village, which was originally called Peabody Heights, attracted wealthy families and upwardly mobile professionals. It now faces security problems and the threat of failure to small businesses. The diversity in the area may be no more evident than in the current prices of homes in Greater Homewood; an average home in Roland Park sells for about $300,000. "Only a few census tracks down, the median price of a home is under $20,000," Fern ndez-Kelly said. "And of course, there are no buyers." Crime is the greatest concern of people living and working in the area, Fern ndez-Kelly said, citing an incident last year involving two armed area teens and a small group of Hopkins students. The students were robbed, then forced to lie on their stomachs as their assailants walked on their backs. "When you start walking over people, literally, you're not only talking about stealing some money, you're talking about inflicting a certain kind of humiliation on people with whom you really do not feel any kind of connection," she said. "Of course, they cannot feel any connection, because they are disconnected. "Clearly, the Harwood neighborhood is not part of the Homewood community. It is physically close to us but it is socially, completely severed," she said. "It is that kind of dismemberment that generates all kinds of violence." In Charles Village, crimes include robberies and assaults; the majority of those convicted of Charles Village crimes also live in the area. In Roland Park, however, the offenses are considered "higher skill crimes," burglaries, larcenies, car thefts. "Those require transportation," Fern ndez-Kelly said. "They are performed by outsiders." Crime figures from city police records show some trends that are consistent with national statistics; crimes in the area peaked in 1992, as did the use of crack cocaine. And 80 percent of crimes are drug-related, either directly or indirectly. The area near Johns Hopkins has a divided profile. The neighborhoods of Waverly and Charles Village are integrated, but at the block level there are high levels of segregation. The vast majority of Asians, for example, are concentrated in north Charles Village. Blacks live primarily in south Charles Village. In the north Charles Village area, the unemployment rate is just over 3 percent, which is almost half of the national level. In the Harwood neighborhood between 25th Street and North Avenue, unemployment is 18 percent. About 40 percent of families are on public assistance there, and there is a large number of children and teenage pregnancies. Fern ndez-Kelly's research also revealed a few surprises about her areas of study. She had heard, for example, complaints from community members about what they perceived to be a small number of Hopkins employees who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. "The charge reflected the general sense that Hopkins is not sensitive to community needs," she said. "But both the feeling and the perception were not entirely accurate." In fact, she said, 43 percent of Homewood campus employees reside within the Greater Homewood area. "Another surprising thing to discover is that the characteristics of the Waverly area and those of Hampden/Remington are almost identical," she said, citing demographics and crime statistics. "The general perception is that Hampden is kind of safe and that everything east of Greenmount Avenue [Waverly] is dark and dangerous. "But basically most of Waverly is working class, salt of the earth people, people with jobs, who own homes, send their children to schools, etc.," she said. "The safest areas to live in the whole area are Hampden and Greater Waverly." After studying the data collected, the researchers came up with suggestions for improvement in five areas: services for women and children, attracting and retaining residents, educational alternatives, revitalizing small businesses and integrating health-care services. Each area is connected, Fern ndez-Kelly said; if education opportunities were enhanced, for example, fewer young professionals with small children would move out of the city. Maintaining quality residents would, in turn, attract businesses to the area. "The logic was to identify those areas which would have the largest positive multiplier effect when combined," she said. "All of these problems would disappear if we had more people employed. But the point is that neither Hopkins nor Union Memorial can have a tremendous effect on the creation of numerous jobs, particularly for unskilled people. So here the idea was to figure out what is doable." One idea for the area is a trolley, which could be used for historical tours as well as transportation. That plan would fall under recommendations to attract both business and residents. Incentives for property owners and the creation of rehabilitation centers and community-based schools are also noted in the report as efforts that could raise the standard of living in the area. Fern ndez-Kelly cited studies, improvements and incentive plans in place at Yale and Princeton universities as ones that have enhanced living conditions in those areas. "It behooves a university as large in importance as Johns Hopkins and a hospital such as Union Memorial to take seriously the idea that as problems escalate in the inner city, it really becomes the responsibility of institutions, neighborhood associations and individuals to join forces in order to address common problems," she said. "But this is not just a question about the community, but also a question about enlightened self-interest. "Hopkins cannot allow the neighborhoods in the area to decline," she said. "Because it is then impossible to retain the best kinds of faculty and best students." In addition to the community leaders, residents and task force recruits involved, the report has attracted church groups and families from various neighborhoods. Fern ndez-Kelly has presented her findings several times and will continue to seek outside involvement. "One thing we want is to form partnerships, create bridges, reduce the level of isolation some families feel," she said. Hopkins vice president Jones said the university will meet with representatives of the GHCC, Union Memorial and the Charles Village Benefits District and task force leaders to develop a plan and look at sources of financing to implement the recommendations.
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