Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 17, 1995

Hopkins' Work With Its Neighbors Is Empowering

By Mike Field
     Calling it a case of "perfect timing," officials at the
Medical Institutions predict profound and lasting improvements in
the neighborhoods surrounding the East Baltimore medical campus
thanks to a $100 million federal empowerment zone grant announced
Dec. 21.
     "We have been working with the community diligently for more
than five years now on plans to improve housing, safety, health,
the environment and jobs," said Dean Michael Johns of the School
of Medicine. "We began this process before President Clinton was
elected, long before there were plans to make empowerment zone
grants. The empowerment zone award is a fabulous shot in the arm.
Now that we have real dollars in hand the planning process can
really be accelerated."
     The two-part grant gives $50 million to the city of
Baltimore now, with a promise of another $50 million in October.
The money is expected to trigger an additional $800 million in
commitments from city, state and private foundations, all aimed
at three of the city's most impoverished areas: Fairfield in the
south of the city, the Sandtown/Pigtown/Winchester neighborhoods
to the west and the East Monument neighborhoods surrounding the
medical campus to the east.
     Although the three geographic areas in the city's new
empowerment zone contain just 72,362 people--less than 10 percent
of Baltimore's population--they account for 21 percent of the
murders and 23 percent of the drug arrests in the city. Studies
indicate that 43 percent of the 47,000 residents in the East
Monument area live below the poverty level with nearly half of
those between the ages of 16 and 64 out of work.
     "For two years now the Historic East Baltimore Community
Action Coalition, Inc. has been developing plans to make the
neighborhoods around the medical campus an economically viable
place to live and work," said Jo Martin, associate director of
public affairs at the Medical Institutions. 
     Martin co-chaired the grassroots organization's
communications committee with neighborhood resident Grace Y.
Jones for more than a year. "All during that planning process we
were talking about empowerment, about increasing economic
opportunities here and how wonderful that would be if only we had
the money. Now that it's happened it's very exciting."
     The Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition, Inc.
is one of several grassroots coalitions slated to become major
players in the empowerment zone renewal efforts. "We work
together on strategies to increase economic opportunities in the
community," said Martin of the group, which includes residents,
area businesses, employers and employees, as well as community
service organizations. "Our aim is to improve the health, safety
and viability of the East Baltimore communities." 
     Colene Daniel, vice president for Johns Hopkins Hospital
Corporate Services, and Richard Grossi, senior associate dean for
finance and administration at the School of Medicine, are both
members of the Historic East Baltimore Community Action
Coalition's board of directors.
     In the coming months, the city will embark upon a number of
empowerment zone initiatives, including the planned funding of a
"one-stop" community bank with $20 million capital for business
loans, the creation of eight "village centers" to coordinate
renewal activities on a neighborhood basis, the creation of a $20
million mortgage pool to help residents buy or renovate homes and
the establishment of a training fund to provide workers with
stipends of up to $400 a week for six weeks while receiving
on-the-job training.
     Baltimore was one of only six cities to receive a $100
million grant. A total of 78 cities competed for the awards. Key
to the city's success seems to have been its ability to tie its
renewal plans to established city employment generators including
tourism and medical technology.

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