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Vital Signs 10 Marks a Decade of Gathering Key Data on Baltimore Neighborhoods

Annual Report by Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute Is City's Most Comprehensive View of Itself

May 12, 2012
Contact: University Relations
Phone: 410.837.5739

Vital Signs 10, a comprehensive statistical portrait of Baltimore and its neighborhoods, marks a decade of reporting on "quality of life" indicators—housing, employment, transportation, the economy, crime, education, population, etc. The 10th edition of the report, published by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute, tracks more than 110 indicators to show how the city has changed since the release of the first Vital Signs in 2002. Many of these indicators cover the years 2000-2010, and present a portrait of Baltimore during a decade of dramatic change. The report is available now on BNIA-JFI's website.

Vital Signs 10 shows that in the past decade, Baltimore has seen significant movement, both positive and negative, in many of the indicators gathered by the report. Specifically:

  • crime has declined by nearly 45 percent
  • median household income has increased by $8,268
  • the median value of homes sold has increased by $50,000
  • the teen birth rate decreased from 83.3 in 2000 to 51.1 per 1,000 Baltimore teens giving birth in 2010
  • the poverty rate for both individuals and families has dropped by nearly 2 percent
  • the city's population has declined by 4.6 percent
  • the percentage of vacant and abandoned homes has increased by 2.6 percent
  • nearly 53 percent of city households in rental properties are spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent

Matthew Kachura, program manager of BNIA-JFI, said the gathering of 10 years of data has immediate and long-term value for those who are working to improve the city.

"Vital Signs is the only comprehensive source for neighborhood data in Baltimore City," Kachura said. "We specialize in integrating data from a variety of sources and package information about Baltimore's communities in one place. Whether you are working to improve the lives of residents, conditions within neighborhoods, or monitoring how the city has changed, Vital Signs tracks neighborhood information year in and year out across many different issues.

"Many neighborhoods have experienced dramatic ups and downs over the decade. The indicators show that some communities are in the midst of increasing racial diversity, like Highlandtown or Morrell Park/Violetville; other communities now have one in every five homes vacant and/or abandoned such as Greenmount East or Upton/Druid Heights. The data in Vital Signs helps us to comprehend what is happening below the city level.  We believe this decade of neighborhood-level data is not available anywhere else."

Vital Signs 10 also shows the city in the midst of the lingering global recession in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available. In 2010:

  • the median sales price for homes decreased by $30,000 or approximately 21 percent from 2009. The greatest decreases were reported in Upton/Druid Heights (-77.7 percent), Clifton-Berea (-73 percent) and Greenmount East (-72.5 percent);
  • the violent crime rate for Baltimore as a whole increased slightly, from 15.3 offenses per 1,000 persons in 2009 to 15.6 offenses per 1,000 persons in 2010 and the Part 1 crime rate increased from 59.6 offenses per 1,000 persons in 2009 to 61.4 offenses per 1,000 persons in 2010;
  • nearly 57 percent of all businesses in the city can be considered to be small and successful, with 50 or fewer employees and a lifespan of more than four years;
  • nearly 40 percent of all high school students were chronically absent—a slight increase from 2009.

Vital Signs analyzes data provided at the Community Statistical Area level. CSAs are clusters of neighborhoods organized around Census Tract boundaries, which are consistent statistical boundaries. Neighborhood borders don't always fall neatly into CSAs, but CSAs represent conditions occurring within the particular neighborhoods that comprise a CSA.

BNIA-JFI began in 1998 as a partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. In 2006, BNIA joined with the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute in an expansion of its capabilities. BNIA-JFI has strengthened the Vital Signs report and provided additional services and resources for those who seek data, information, and analysis about the city.

The complete Vital Signs reports, along with a separate executive summary, data, maps and other reports conducted by BNIA-JFI, are available at www.bniajfi.org.

The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Public Affairs and the Merrick School of Business.