Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 17, 1995

Hopkins Joins Effort To Assess Neighborhoods

By Lisa Mastny

     In celebration of 25 years of organized cooperation with the
neighborhoods surrounding the Homewood campus, the university is
participating in a yearlong collaborative study with The Union
Memorial Hospital and the Greater Homewood Community Corporation
to assess and prioritize the changing needs of these communities.

     The study, funded equally by Union Memorial and Hopkins, was
initiated last September as part of an effort to document the
significant demographic trends in the area since the creation of
the Greater Homewood Community Corporation in 1969, as well as to
determine the future roles of both institutions in the area. 

     "Hopkins' future is in this community--in the neighborhoods
that surround it," said Patricia Fern ndez-Kelly of the Johns
Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies and the principal
investigator of the study. "Hopkins must play an aggressive role
in helping improve the quality of life in the area." 

     The rationale for the collaborative project reflects the
growing need for institutions and grassroots organizations to
join forces when tackling common concerns.

     "As government funding for urban initiatives becomes less
and less available, and as the opinion grows that government
should not intervene in the lives of individuals and the
community, it is increasingly up to the communities and
institutions to address mutual problems and issues of civic
responsibility and citizenship," Dr. Fern ndez-Kelly said.

     With approximately 5,000 students and more than 100 members
of the faculty and staff living in the adjacent community,
Hopkins has a significant stake in the stability of the Greater
Homewood neighborhoods, she said.

     "If the quality of life falls and people leave the city and
these areas, this does not improve either the value of Hopkins
properties or the competitive edge of the university in terms of
employees, brainpower and students. Through this study, we hope
to determine what the university, as an institution, can do to
create incentives to stay."

     A Charles Village resident herself, Dr. Fern ndez-Kelly is
keenly aware of the growing threats to these nearby communities. 

     She recently completed the first phase of the study, a
demographic and statistical profile of the Greater Homewood
neighborhoods, and is now conducting in-depth interviews with
both residents and community leaders to identify major concerns
facing the area. She will present her findings to the community
at an open roundtable discussion on May 31 before moving on to
the final phase of the project: the convening of a Homewood Task
Force of individuals to think through and address the most
pressing issues emerging from the study. 

     "One of the biggest problems is that there aren't enough
families with children living in the area, and professionals and
families move out in search of better educational facilities as
soon as their children turn 5 or 6," she said. "It's a bit of a
shame, because the area is enormously attractive to look at. But
the disincentives are also great--concerns about safety, public
schools, recreational activities and higher city taxes often
prevent the area from attracting more stable residents."

     Demographically, the Greater Homewood area has changed quite
significantly over the years yet remains an incredibly vibrant
and diverse community, Dr. Fern ndez-Kelly said.

     "Within Greater Homewood, we have some of the most affluent
neighborhoods in the city, such as Roland Park, Homeland and
Oakenshaw adjacent to what are now very uniform white or African
American working class areas like Hampden and Waverly," she said.
"Then you have Charles Village, which historically grew with the
reputation of being much more open, accepting a variety of
professionals and individuals associated with Hopkins as well as
many working class people and local characters. 

     Although these areas are predominantly stable now and have
infinite untapped possibilities, each neighborhood faces its own
set of urban challenges. Problems are emerging in the character
and vitality of businesses, the number of homeowners, growing
unemployment and the appearance of drug trafficking."

     Because the area is composed of individuals with diverse
interests who may be suspicious of Hopkins' and other
institutional intentions in the area, it is important that the
study be as inclusive as possible and the community remain
informed throughout the process, Dr. Fern ndez-Kelly said. 

     "There is a cynical attitude that Hopkins does not have a
good reputation because it is uncaring and insensitive to
community needs," she said. "But part of the reason we undertook
such an ambitious project in such a short time frame was in
deference to these needs, to prove that it is not just a study
that provides research for academics but doesn't go anywhere."

     This is not the first time either Hopkins or Union Memorial
has provided its resources to improve the quality of life in the
Homewood area. Taking the lead in 1967, the university began a
series of breakfast meetings with area residents to explore the
possibility of bringing disparate community associations together
to work for community improvement. 

     With the early support of Union Memorial, and spurred by
Hopkins vice president and secretary Ross Jones, this initiative
eventually led to the creation of the Greater Homewood Community
Corporation, an umbrella organization that now monitors numerous
community planning, crime prevention, housing, recreational and
recycling programs in the area.

     The Union Memorial Hospital has also been at the forefront
of community health care efforts, most recently collaborating
with the Shepherd Clinic to provide inexpensive health care
services to the working poor.

     "We want to continue to work as a team with our neighbors to
assess, prioritize and address the health needs of our
community," said Edward J. Kelly III, president of Union
Memorial, in an interview for the Greater Homewood newsletter,

     "Jerry Kelly and Ross Jones have been determined to create a
situation in which there is a real partnership," Dr.
Fern ndez-Kelly said. "And so far it has been a wonderful
collaboration. We are coming up with fascinating results in the
study, and I think we will have a good idea of what area
priorities to address in the future."

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