New Report Focuses on Shrinking US Cities and Strategies for Their Renewal

According to a report from the Community Development Partnership Network (CDPN), the prosperity of US cities in the 1990s could not prevent the marginal growth and loss of residents experienced in cities with populations of 100,000 or more, which included Baltimore.

The report, supported in part by the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative (BNC), gave nine suggestions to revitalize these “weak market cities” including partnership approaches and sophisticated market analysis.

“Our work over the last decade shows us that Baltimore’s successful programs to combat further population loss and shore up its stagnant economy need to be grounded in creative, market-oriented policies that involve new, more collaborative coalitions,” says BNC director Ann Sherrill.

The major problems of weaker market cities are low home value and equity, a diminishing tax base, which causes services to become scarcer, and a higher likelihood of people being poor and lacking social programs.

To combat these hindrances, home ownership could help cities build wealth. However, Kim Burnett, executive director of CDPN notes, “ places like Baltimore, owning a home is not always an asset-building strategy. To help people in these cities accumulate wealth, we must start promoting policies and programs that build markets, stabilize housing values and provide access to jobs and other opportunities.”

Baltimore was identified in the report as “a prime example of a city that has taken a step in the right direction” with the Baltimore Regional Partnership, which supports home improvements in older urban and suburban areas, preserves land and encourages a regional workforce and efficient public transportation. This, in addition to a handful of other pilot initiatives, is part of Baltimore’s coalition-minded strategy to rebuild communities in the city and attract more residents.

For a copy of the report, go here.

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This story was published on August 15, 2003.