David Epstein, Ph.D. examines the ties between decision-making and information access, especially in regard to interventions made by public agencies, community based organizations and philanthropy in distressed urban areas. Dr. Epstein’s methodological approach combines quantitative, spatial and qualitative methods. His prior research focuses on a neighborhood indicators system in Cleveland and provides a generalizable framework for identifying situations in which parcel-based data systems help community development corporations rehabilitate vacant and abandoned housing. Dr. Epstein was a Fulbright Fellow in Israel (2006) where his work revealed the sharp tensions between environmental conservation and economic development in a Galilean valley. From 1999 to 2004, Dr. Epstein worked for the labor union, UNITE, both as an organizer and as a strategist. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Michigan.
The goal and mission of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance – Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) of the University of Baltimore is to provide accurate data and objective research to a wide range of groups, organizations, and agencies that result in positive policy change. BNIA-JFI strengthens the principle and practice of well-informed decision making to support stronger neighborhoods, an improved quality of life, and a thriving city. This is accomplished through providing accurate, reliable, and accessible and actionable data, indicators, and research that describe the social economic and quality of life issues impacting the City and its neighborhoods.
Vital Signs are groups of related data points compiled from a variety of reliable sources that “take the pulse” of Baltimore’s neighborhoods. Each Vital Sign comprises a set of data which, taken together, form a picture of any given neighborhood’s quality of life and overall health.
The Vital Signs help BNIA, community members, decision makers, and funders to measure progress towards meaningful, positive outcomes at the community level, and measure needs in specific and actionable ways.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Grow Baltimore in December 2011 with the goal of increasing Baltimore City’s population by 10,000 new households by 2020. In partnership with the Goldseker Foundation, the City aims to target retention strategies using data on former and current residents. Several City agencies and community partners have been working towards this goal independently through their strategies, services, and programs. However, there is a need for a coordinated overarching strategy to achieve the Mayor’s goal of achieving sustained population growth. The Goldseker Foundation funded BNIA-JFI to produce actionable information for the Mayor’s Office, city departments, and local nonprofit organizations to further the Grow Baltimore initiative. BNIA-JFI released a series of reports—“Grow Baltimore: Who’s Moving, Where and Why”—which offers details about factors that influence population trends in the city.
“Pull” Factors: Elements associated with Baltimore that attract residents to city living and encourage them to stay:
- Growing Employment Sectors and Anchor Institutions
- Location (i.e., proximity to Washington, D.C. and the mid-Atlantic region)
- Sense of Place and Community Associated with Urban Living
- Cultural and Economic Diversity
- Growing Population of New Americans
- Large Stock of Affordable Housing
“Push” Factors: Elements associated with Baltimore that dissuade residents from city living or cause them to consider relocating:
- Public Safety (particularly property crime)
- School Quality
- Transportation Access and Connectivity
- Government Customer Service
- Taxes and “City-Living Premiums” (e.g., higher car insurance rates)
- Housing Quality and Size (particularly relevant to growing families and middle-income retirees)
These efforts, plus those of Live Baltimore through its new Way To Stay website, featuring resources to assist families as they explore local education options, are part of a trend to encourage local residents to stay in Baltimore, and to welcome new families to the city.
Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant
The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance – Jacob France Institute has been working with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to provide data analysis and evaluation services for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant (BCJI). The goal of the BCJI program is to improve community safety by designing and implementing effective, evidence-based approaches to addressing crime within a targeted neighborhood, as part of a broader strategy to advance neighborhood revitalization through cross-sector, community-based partnerships.
A variety of the project’s resources are available at www.bniajfi.org/currentprojects/bcji, including:
- Full plan from the planning process (2013-2014)
- Literature review on evidence-based practices for crime reduction
- Online asset map
- Maps presentations, and other data graphics
- Profiles of key hotspot areas in McElderry Park
- Links to partners
Baltimore Data Day 2015
Baltimore Data Day is an annual workshop to help communities expand their capacity to use technology and data to advance their goals. At the 6th Annual Baltimore Data Day held on July 9-10, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, governmental entities and civic-minded “hackers” came together to see the latest trends in community-based data, technology and tools and learn how other groups are using data to support and advance constructive change. Baltimore Data Day is structured around a series of “how to” interactive workshops in which people who work with data will explain what data is available, how to access data, and why data can be actionable for communities. To see presentations, visit www.bniajfi.org/data_day
For more information about about this program visit the BNIA website at www.bniajfi.org or contact bnia-jfi [at] ubalt [dot] edu at (410) 837-4377