A rowhouse in Bolton Hill. Photo by Taber Andrew Bain/Flickr Creative Commons.

More than half of Baltimore residents are optimistic about the city’s future, although nearly seven out of ten think Baltimore is currently on the wrong track, according to the results of a new Goucher College poll released Tuesday.

In particular, a majority of Baltimore residents are concerned with issues that impact living conditions, like litter, housing affordability, and public safety.

The poll found that 67% of Baltimore residents think the city is off on the wrong track, while 18% said the city is heading in the right direction. Of the remaining respondents, 13% don’t know and 2% refused to answer.

For at least some of those residents, Baltimore’s future could be brighter than the present in their view.

Half of Baltimore residents are optimistic (36%) or very optimistic (17%) when thinking about the future of the city. Meanwhile, 17% are pessimistic and 19% are very pessimistic. The other respondents either don’t know (10%) or refused to answer (2%).

The survey asked respondents whether they viewed various issues as “major,” “minor” or “not an issue” for Baltimore City.

With median rent prices in the U.S. rising above $2,000 for the first time, 71% of Baltimore residents see affordable housing as a major concern. Of the remaining respondents, 18% said they saw a lack of affordable housing as a “minor issue,” and 8% viewed it as a non-issue.

Along with affordable housing, 70% of respondents believe litter and illegal dumping is a “major issue” throughout the city. However, 24% of respondents said litter was a “minor issue,” and 4% think it is not an issue in Baltimore City.

Three out of five respondents reported the local tax rate was a “major issue.” Meanwhile, local tax rates were a “minor issue” for 27% of respondents and a not an issue for 8%.

There was little divide over the respondents’ attitudes on crime.

Nine out of 10 Baltimore residents see crime and public safety as a “major issue.” Of the remaining 10% of respondents: 7% said crime is a “minor issue,” 1% said it is a non-issue, 1% did not know, and 1% refused to respond. 

Goucher College conducted their poll from May 17-23. In the days after the survey was completed, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott traded letters regarding efforts to address crime in Baltimore City.

Hogan on May 26 sent a letter to Scott, requesting that the Baltimore mayor disclose the city’s plan to reform crime and how the money allocated to fighting crime is being sent.

Scott outlined the reduction of violent crimes in Baltimore City from 2021 to 2022 in his response to Hogan on June 3. He also invited Hogan to the city to see the plans underway.

Nearly three in five Baltimoreans disapprove (29%) or strongly disapprove (28%) of the Baltimore City Police Department. The police department is approved by 23% of respondents and strongly approved by 8%, while 9% said they don’t know and 2% refused to answer.

Asked about various issues in Baltimore schools, a majority of respondents said they were all major problems, including school building conditions, violence, inadequate funding, students unable to meet academic standards, school closures, and inadequate teacher pay.

Baltimore residents were split on the issues of inadequate public transportation and a lack in employment opportunities.

Although 42% of respondents see inadequate public transportation as a “major issue,” 17% do not see it as an issue at all. Of the other respondents, 32% see inadequate public transportation as a “minor issue,” 8% don’t know, and 1% refused to respond.

Residents were similarly divided over the lack of employment and job opportunities in Baltimore City. While 57% see this as a “major issue,” 24% see a lack of employment opportunities as a “minor issue,” and 15% do not believe this is an issue.

Goucher College surveyed 1,002 Baltimore residents aged 18 years or older by phone from May 17-23rd, 2022. The Baltimore Banner funded the poll.

For a sample size of 1,002 residents, there is a margin of error of plus or minus 3.09 percentage points.

Liv Barry is Baltimore Fishbowl's 2022 summer reporting intern. Barry is rising junior at Washington College, where she is majoring in communication and media studies and double minoring in journalism,...