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East Baltimore model for humane redevelopment

When then-Mayor Martin O'Malley announced plans to redevelop a large swath of East Baltimore that would require the displacement of more than 500 families, it was met with a healthy dose of skepticism. Flash forward and the plan is being hailed as the model for other cities.

Here's an excerpt:

"The question is: Can we Americans be more sensitive than we were after World War II, when "urban renewal" forced inner-city residents - mostly black - to abandon their neighborhoods? The prime excuse then was to "eradicate blight." But the uses of the lost neighborhood land often told a different tale: flashy public projects, real estate opportunities for developers and massive freeways that plowed through low-income and minority areas.

Notwithstanding redevelopment around the Inner Harbor, much of Baltimore's inner city was a poster child for deindustrialization. It saw riots in the 1960s, a massive middle-class exodus, waves of drugs, crime, property "flippers" and slumlords.

The Casey Foundation was initially skeptical when Baltimore's mayor, now Gov. Martin O'Malley, asked for help with a $1 billion-plus plan to acquire and demolish hundreds of homes in the Middle East neighborhood, just north of the Johns Hopkins campus. The idea was to create an 88-acre community for life sciences research facilities, retail development and market-rate housing."

Read the entire op-ed here.
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