Data Used To Select New Investment Areas For Neighborhoods Initiative

Author: Jake Cowan with Thomas Kingsley
Date Posted: July 5, 2011

The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) produced a report for the Executive Director of Baltimore’s Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, Inc. (HNI, Inc.) that was used to guide the selection of new investment areas. HNI, Inc. targets neighborhoods for improvement that have a strong housing stock, and seem likely to rapidly improve if they receive an infusion of new investments.  

BNIA produces quarterly reports as well as a year-end report for HNI, Inc. These reports detail trends for housing indicators for target blocks in HNI, Inc. neighborhoods. BNIA tracks six key housing indicators:

  • median sales price,  
  • number of housing units sold,  
  • median number of days a house is on the market,  
  • percent of residential properties that undergo mortgage foreclosure,  
  • percent of residential properties that are vacant and abandoned, and  
  • the percent of residential properties with building permits for rehab investment over $5,000.  
BNIA examined these six housing indicators for potential new investment areas in northwest Baltimore. It provided this information to the Executive Director of HNI, Inc., who used it in a presentation to the Sinai Medical Center Board of Directors in March 2006. The Board needed to select two neighborhoods from a proposed list of four. Based on the data BNIA provided, two new neighborhoods were selected for inclusion in the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, Inc. program, bringing the total investment areas from 10 to 12. BNIA’s data revealed that the two selected neighborhoods had higher median sales prices, and fewer properties that were foreclosed upon or that were vacant and abandoned. These indicators convinced the Board their investment would be more likely to leverage results in the two selected neighborhoods. 
The selection of these new neighborhoods will bring new investments from Sinai Medical Center, which is located near both of the new neighborhoods. BNIA will continue to report on the progress in all HNI, Inc. investment areas.

This story was initially published in Stories: Using Information in Community Building and Local Policy in June 2007.

This story was written by staff at the Urban Institute, drawn from documents and interviews with Peter Armstrong of BNIA and Carol Eshelman of the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition. Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance is the Baltimore partner in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a learning network in 30 cities coordinated by the Urban Institute. All partners ensure communities have access to data and the skills to use information to advance equity and well-being across neighborhoods.

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