Baltimore has experienced a prolonged period of population and household loss, resulting in weak market conditions and vacancy across many of its neighborhoods. The city has been working for decades to combat and reverse these conditions, but stubbornly high concentrations of vacancy in areas of low demand and high poverty (which account for almost 90% of all vacant structures) have defied most interventions to date.
As new sources of public and philanthropic funding become available, nonprofit organizations ReBUILD Metro and BUILD, along with their partners, were determined to make smart bets on neighborhood investments in order to do the most possible good. They commissioned czb to explore the dynamics of vacancy and disinvestment in Baltimore and to identify a path forward that would yield results in areas of stubbornly high vacancy. The resulting strategy, completed in fall 2022, calls for robust investments in the health of groups of blocks and movement away from focusing on vacancy as the problem to solve.