For Baltimore’s Project C.O.R.E. urban redevelopment plan, the state of Maryland is offering up hundreds of millions of dollars to seduce investors into developing some of the city’s most blighted corridors. The challenge for those developers will be to find ways to ensure that new and renovated housing is affordable for low-wage earners. “Affordable,” however, has long-ago become an elusive target, especially in cities like Baltimore where both poverty and housing costs are out of control.
This double crisis has not only continued to keep very-low-income households from securing stable housing, but it’s also been slimming down housing options for working- and middle-class families, as well. So writes Philip M.E. Garboden, a doctoral candidate in sociology and applied math at Johns Hopkins University, in a new report for the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation. Even if wages were raised considerably—say, boosting minimum wages to $15 an hour—a family of four would still have a difficult time securing housing. Writes Garboden in the report:
I attempt to highlight what has changed in Baltimore and how the traditional adage that “Baltimore doesn’t have a housing affordability problem, it has a poverty problem” is increasingly missing the complexity of the issue. Indeed, focusing only on the city’s entrenched poverty masks emergent dynamics within the housing market and defers interventions that could help to mitigate rising housing costs at all levels.