TALE OF TWO CITIES
has some great neighborhoods. In 2013, more than 250 homes sold
for half a million dollars or more in the city. The city has
an inner harbor that cities around the world should envy, bordered
by two of the best stadiums in the country. We are in a wealthy
state. Maryland has more millionaires than any other state in
is also another Baltimore. Approximately 1800 homes under 50,000
dollars sold in Baltimore in 2013. There were 44 homicides in
the city in the first quarter of 2014, averaging roughly one
every other day. Many of the city's homicides can be attributed
to gangs, which lure in many of our young people, and set them
on a destructive path for the rest of their lives.
need to start focusing more on the second Baltimore. We can
start on a small scale, and use a combination of public and
charitable funding, private investment and citizen participation.
We should start at the edge of "good" neighborhoods,
and work on expanding their boundaries outwards. The problems
in these border communities will be less severe, easier to deal
with and can be solved more quickly. Every problem must be dealt
with. Police presence should be temporarily increased, both
directly, and indirectly through monitoring. Neighborhood watch
programs can be created to assist the police. There should be
an extra push to get suitable jobs for the unemployed. Incentives
can be given to businesses to open in these areas, and hire
the areas' residents. Distractions from children's education
should be removed, including rat control and lead abatement.
As the problems are fixed in one area, we can expand into adjoining
have been programs that have included elements of this idea.
The Harlem Children's Zone started with one block in the 1990's
and has expanded to cover a hundred blocks in Harlem in New
York. The program includes workshops for parents of children
under age three, all-day pre-kindergarten, charter schools,
health clinics, youth violence prevention, social services and
programs to get students into college. Much of the financing
has come from charitable donations, and the program is helping
to break the cycle of poverty.
Solution Is Cheaper Than The Problem
program will pay for itself. The cost of criminal activity,
unemployment, welfare, poor education and deteriorating neighborhoods
far exceeds the cost of eliminating these problems. The cost
to the taxpayer of incarcerating a prisoner is far higher than
the cost of keeping them out of trouble. We lose tax revenue
when people in these areas don't have employment opportunities.
Far too often we just look at the cost of creating programs,
and ignore the cost of not having such a program in place. If
there is not much room in the budget, it can start as a trial
program, and be expanded based on savings in other areas.
benefits of such a program aren't limited to people in poorer
neighborhoods. Criminal activity doesn't stop at neighborhood
boundaries. Deteriorating communities bring down the value of
properties in adjoining communities. Property taxes have to
be higher on all properties, to compensate for the devaluation
of properties in poorer areas, and we all pay higher taxes to
cover the cost of the city's problems.