Baltimore, MD

How can PROGRESS in a small, target neighborhood continue while expanding into surrounding areas?


Beginning in 2014, the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition (HEBCAC) intervened in the Milton-Montford neighborhood, a distressed section of East Baltimore, and deployed its Station East initiative—a creative public-private partnership designed to acquire abandoned houses in the neighborhood, renovate them, and market them to future buyers.

The Station East initiative had a powerful impact. By avoiding speculative renovation, the initiative was able to successfully invest limited resources and dramatically shape housing values for the better. Today, the area shows dramatic signs of recovery, with for- and nonprofit renovations underway, ongoing infrastructure improvements, new green space, and maintenance standards rising. But while these opportunities created opportunities for investment, they also raised questions about the future of the community beyond the target neighborhood.

czb arrived in Baltimore in January 2017 to evaluate the neighborhood’s housing market, clarify the situation, and help HEBCAC map the path forward.

Expanding Improvement Efforts into the Surrounding Area

Baltimore neighborhoods are critical to the health of the city. Different neighborhoods are benefitting from specific targeted approaches to recovery: attracting the middle class, leveraging government investment, or using the resources and techniques of the Healthy Neighborhoods programs.

Each of these public and private initiatives is a valuable and powerful tool for change.

Achieving Clarity With Data

To construct a clear-eyed view of the conditions in this East Baltimore neighborhood, czb obtained and evaluated six years of real estate sales records; scored, mapped, and analyzed parcel conditions using our proprietary house-by-house evaluation; and collected and analyzed property and demographic data from a variety of sources.

Engaging the Community

No evaluation of a market is complete without an examination of the views residents hold—in no small part because those residents have firsthand knowledge of a market’s strengths and weaknesses.

Over the course of six months, czb met and interviewed 137 residents of the target neighborhood—an engagement rate of over 20 percent.


czb's recommended strategy was differentiated by a new typology of blocks within the target area. Blocks were categorized as Development Blocks, Legacy Blocks, Transition Blocks, or Opportunity Blocks with interventions specifically tailored for each type.

Engagement in Historic East Baltimore

Our report for HEBCAC identified blocks with the greatest potential for achieving neighborhood stability, made specific recommendations for the necessary work, and provided a sound decision-making framework.

czb also identified actionable strategies HEBCAC could use to continue and expand the Station East initiative, strengthen partnerships, expand its toolkit, grow leaders, and increase its capacity to implement.