"In scholarly literature, there is a lot of interest about inner suburbs, those older suburban communities near the central city. We found that these areas suffer from increasing poverty and declining incomes. Therefore, we set off to better understand these urban dynamics," said Bernadette Hanlon, a public policy Ph.D. candidate at UMBC and one of two authors of "The State of the Inner Suburbs," an analysis of the urban decline surrounding Baltimore.
"There is room for public policy to intervene, to stop this decline, to process and revitalize the suburban communities," said co-author Thomas J. Vicino, public policy Ph.D. candidate. "We're at a crossroads, where the suburbs haven't declined as far as old Baltimore, and there is hope."
Both Hanlon and Vicino are researchers at UMBC's Center for Urban and Environmental Research and Education (CUERE). After a year of compiling massive amounts of data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Vicino and Hanlon developed a new system for classifying the suburbs that ring Baltimore's beltway.
"Because the inner suburbs are juxtaposed by outer suburbs, there's a lot of talk in Maryland of 'smart growth,' and where to direct new development," said Vicino.
"The State of the Inner Suburbs" is currently under consideration for publication in the Journal of Urban Affairs. The data was presented at the national Urban Affairs Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, and to a group of state legislators, politicians and other academics. It was also a front page story in the Baltimore Sun.
The report is potentially useful to legislators, from the migration of work and the composition of the work force to the deflation of property values. "I'd like to see the community and policy makers look to our research as a way to target investment in the communities," said Vicino, while Hanlon added, "We've done analysis on Baltimore, and we hope to continue our research in a comparative context in other urban areas throughout the country."
"The State of the Inner Suburbs" is available for download at: www.umbc.edu/cuere/inner_ring .