Study: Baltimore has seen one of the highest rates of gentrification in the U.S.

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An interactive map of Baltimore’s gentrification. The light blue areas indicate Census tracts eligible to be gentrified. Dark blue shows areas that gentrified. Pink shows areas that gentrified and displaced blacks. Yellow shows areas that gentrified and displaced whites. Image via the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

From 2000 to 2013, Baltimore experienced the fifth highest rate of gentrification in the United States, ranking behind bustling cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, according to a new study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), a nonprofit that tries to steer investment into underserved communities.

Baltimore joins those four cities and San Diego and Chicago in accounting for half the gentrification to occur nationwide in that time frame.

Using U.S. Census figures and economic data, the NCRC determined 171 of Baltimore’s 679 census tracts were eligible for gentrification, defined as having home values in the bottom 40 percent of the city in 2000. Of those, 38 tracts–or 22 percent–experienced gentrification, which researchers defined as areas that rank in the 60th percentile of increases in median home value and the number of residents with college degrees.

In these places, five tracts saw displacement of African-American residents, with an average loss of 673 black residents and an average increase of 110 white residents, 235 Hispanic residents and 22 Asian residents. That rate of African-American displacement ranks ninth in the country.

An interactive map made by the NCRC shows these areas are in neighborhoods like Station North and Greenmount West in Central Baltimore, and a string of Census tracts just north of Patterson Park that includes McElderry Park, Patterson Place and CARE.

For example, in Station North and Greenmount West, the population increased from 1,668 in 2000 to 2,073 in 2010, and in that time the white population more than quadrupled, going from 104 to 453, while the black population slightly decreased, from 1,511 to 1,214. Home prices skyrocketed during that period, from a median value of $66,640 to $209,300.

Over in East Baltimore, there have been larger gains among Hispanics. In Census tract 601, covering parts of Patterson Park Neighborhood and Elwood Park/Monument, the white population actually declined from 2000 to 2010, dropping to 727 from 823. The black population saw a more substantial drop, from 2,188 to 1,570. But the number of Hispanic residents increased nearly four times, jumping by more than 600 residents. Median home values went from $65,008 to $203,300.

Further east, and in a couple other pockets, whites are leaving in greater numbers as Hispanics move in. In Census tract 2605.01, which includes Bayview and Greektown, the white population declined by 1,000 people, while the Hispanic population increased tenfold. Median home values went up by more than $60,000 between 2000 and 2010. Three neighboring tracts to the west of this one have seen similar trends.

By and large, however, the flow of investment dollars and wealthy residents has followed a familiar trend in Baltimore: into the central “White L”–a term coined by Morgan State University professor Lawrence Brown–of historically white neighborhoods that avoided the racist housing practices of redlining and disinvestment.

The population downtown and on the Westside has nearly doubled in the period between censuses. Whites and blacks lived there in almost equal numbers at the start of the millennium, but the increases in the white and Asian-American populations have outpaced blacks. Less than half of residents had bachelor’s degrees in 2000. In 2010, 85 percent did.

In other parts of this corridor, the demographics have remained fairly similar while the home values and number of college graduates have shot up. Remington, for example, has grown by a little less than 200 people and remained majority white. But median home values more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, as did the number of residents with a bachelor’s degree.

It’s even starker in Hampden, where the number of college grads has tripled as home prices also went up twofold.

Bruce C. Mitchell, a senior research analyst with NCRC and one of the authors of the study, said that while larger cities have more widespread gentrification, places like Baltimore see it spread from the central business district or other anchor institutions.

“It’s just kind of grown out from that Inner Harbor area, to Fells Point to the east, and towards Johns Hopkins University in the north,” he said, referring to the redevelopment of the waterfront that kicked off with the opening of Harborplace in 1980.

While Baltimore has a smaller economy than others on the list and has experienced deindustrialization, the city still has economic drivers in large organizations like Hopkins and benefits from its proximity to the nation’s capital.

“It still participates in this Washington regional economy, and there’s a lot of spillover effects from that,” said Mitchell.

NCRC would like to see municipalities enact measures such as right of first refusal for renters in apartment buildings that are slated for redevelopment (tenants in single-family rental properties have that in Baltimore), down payment assistance programs, more affordable housing in new development projects and tax abatement programs for people on fixed incomes (the city caps annual tax increases on homes at 4 percent, and the state offers the Homestead Tax Credit for assessed value that increases more than 10 percent).

Such policies can help residents participate in revitalization rather than be priced out, Mitchell said.

The researchers are starting to gather more data, adding to the 2000 and 2010 Census records and U.S. Census American Community Survey from 2000-2013 used in this report, and the early indication is that gentrification is not slowing down.

“We’re seeing that process intensify, where it’s happening in the same cities we identify at an accelerated pace.”

This story has been updated.

Brandon Weigel

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