A Working Paper by William P. Kladky, Ph.D., GBCHRB Administrator

December 18, 2001    (c) 2001, GBCHRB



This is one in a series of occasional research Working Papers written and distributed by the Greater Baltimore Community Housing Resource Board, Inc. (GBCHRB). The GBCHRB is a nonprofit organization that provides Fair Housing education, training, and advocacy; our primary funding is from the Baltimore City and Baltimore County CDBG Programs. The purpose of these working papers is educational. The GBCHRB provides these Fair Housing educational resources as a public service. This paper was written by William P. Kladky, Ph.D., the GBCHRB's Administrator. A previous version of this paper was published in the November, 2001, edition of The Voter, the monthly newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Baltimore County, Maryland. For more information, background data/references, or for a free copy of this paper, please contact Dr. Kladky of the GBCHRB at 410-929-7640 or .

The Harvard Report on Racial Segregation

A report released in April, 2001, by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University found racial residential segregation was thriving in the US despite the increasing diversity of the nation's population. In fact, the 2000 Census data found the nation now is the most racially and ethnically diverse in its history. The nation has a high level of racial residential segregation, and the Baltimore metro's level is even higher.

The National Situation

From a national perspective, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians live in much more integrated neighborhoods than do whites. Across all metro areas, the average white lived in a neighborhood 80% white, 8% Hispanic, 7% black, and 4% Asian. Contrasting, the typical black lived in a neighborhood 51% black, 33% white, 12% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. This hardly changed in the 1990s, although whites' average neighborhood was 5% less white and 1% more black than in 1990. This trend has continued for decades. Whites prefer to live in neighborhoods that are over 90% white, while minorities of every type prefer much more racially integrated neighborhoods.

Specifically, the Harvard University study found the metros with the most white-black integration were in the South, and/or in military areas like Norfolk and San Diego. On the study's "dissimilarity score" - comparing the different racial/ethnic groups' living patterns vis-a-vis each other - the nation's five worst were Detroit, Gary, Milwaukee-Waukesha, New York, and Chicago. The highest ranking Southern city was Miami at 16th (

The nation's segregation picture is further complicated by the wide racial gap within metro residence. Over 70% of whites nationally are now in the suburbs compared to only 40% of blacks. Gary Orfield, co-director of the Harvard project, commented, "The trends in the 2000 Census should be taken as a warning that our historic problem of black exclusion is taking on new and complex dimensions" (

The Situation in the Baltimore Metro

Of the 331 metro areas in the Harvard study, the Baltimore MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) - Baltimore City and the surrounding six counties - ranked 39th. In other words, the Baltimore metro had the 39th highest level of racial residential segregation between whites and blacks. The Baltimore area's rating was 67.9; ratings over 60 were considered "very high" in the study; it means that "over 60% of the members of one racial group would need to move to a different tract for the two groups to be equally distributed."

These findings agree with previous studies of the Baltimore area by the Greater Baltimore Community Housing Resource Board, finding high levels of racial segregation in the City as well as in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Harford County. Perhaps even more troubling, the Baltimore metro's national comparative ranking between 1990 and 2000 increased from 49th to 39th. This indicates a growing level of racial residential segregation between whites and blacks in our metro.

What Can - and Should - Be Done

High levels of racial residential segregation spell trouble on many levels, both near and long-term. for a community. Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, said, "Perhaps the most dangerous implication of these developments is how residential segregation reinforces other societal inequalities to severely limit educational opportunity." Without some type of interaction, studies show, most people - however well-meaning - begin thinking and acting toward "the other" in stereotypical ways. This limits various social and education opportunities, poisons race and intergroup relations, and reinforces prejudicial and discriminatory attitudes and behaviors. Recent studies also have shown that metros that are not seen as harmonious places for various people are bypassed in company location, skilled worker retention and draw, and subsequent economic development. In the past year, we have seen various reports indicating the Baltimore area's relatively lagging performance in these indicants.

The cure is complex, as cures inevitably are - and the political agenda is daunting. Much more Fair Housing education and better enforcement of Fair Housing laws were strongly recommended by the Harvard study. Additionally, strengthened human relations efforts can mitigate some of the results. To some extent, however, residential segregation is an economic problem that needs an economic solution. Wage disparities, particularly the low minimum wage and comparative wage unfairness, need to be lessened significantly. Regional solutions are necessary. More financial subsidies, especially for families, are needed to increase the level of affordable housing in all suburban counties.

A Local & Regional Problem, A Local & Regional Solution

These studies underline the fact that each jurisdiction in our region has a deteriorating segregation picture. Moreover, the entire Baltimore region is confronted with this worsening problem - and the region must work for solutions or face a deteriorating situation. The impact of increasing racial segregation, declining racial relations, and worsening intergroup harmony has economic consequences that affect every jurisdiction in the region. The Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area - prepared by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council in September, 1996 - identified a variety of impediments including discriminatory practices, a shortage of assisted housing, a lack of affordable housing, spotty enforcement of laws, negative zoning & land use policies, and a lack of adequate Fair Housing education. To make progress, each jurisdiction must work to remove these impediments.

Progress is Slow

Unfortunately, progress is slow. Let's just look at zoning & land use as an example. Two recent studies, by the Baltimore Regional Partnership and 1000 Friends of Maryland, found every county in the region - excepting Baltimore County - projects "significant development outside of designated growth areas." The result will be the loss of 10,000 acres of farms and forests in the next 20 years. This type of zoning & land use policy guarantees the situation will worsen in the future: affordable housing will lessen, segregation will increase, and the environment will deteriorate further. Adherence to smart land use varied considerably by jurisdiction.

For several reasons - especially its plans to build around the Liberty Reservoir - Carroll County was "awarded" nearly failing grades. A high 58% of the County's residential development in the next two decades will be outside the designated growth areas. This bespeaks of a deliberate ignorance of the existence of the areas and the underlying Smart Growth concept - rather than mere technical violation. Oppositionally, Baltimore County had a 9.2% projection for units outside the areas. Furthermore, the County's restrictive agricultural zoning, with its urban/rural demarcation line established by the 1979 Master Plan, was lauded by the report. Development above the line is limited to only one house per 50 acres - over twice as restrictive as any other area jurisdiction. The County's agricultural zoning permits only one house per 20 acres, and thus greatly limits residential development. The County, however, is seeking more highway improvements to serve new housing outside of the growth areas. Activists argue such funds could be better spent on mass transit projects (Baltimore Sun, October 10, 2001:1B-4B).

Let's Work Together

In this season of faith and secular holidays, there is reason to hope. Actions, however, must accompany hope. Let us hope - and continue to work for - improvement in the level of residential segregation, affordable housing, and economic equality, so this decade will be seen as one where progress actually was made on these tough problems. Please contact the GBCHRB at 410-929-7640 or if you would like to work with us for Fair Housing and community improvement. We can provide free Fair Housing informational brochures (in English, Spanish, Korean, and Russian), posters, self-help guides, and other educational materials. You also can check out our Living in Baltimore radio show at 6 a.m. on popular "Heaven-600" (600 AM); our Neighborhood Beat cable-TV show broadcast on Channels 8 & 15 in Baltimore City, 71 in Baltimore County, and in Anne Arundel, Harford, and other counties; or our web site at

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