Wandering Eye: City told food bank to help cops after riot, lending in African-American neighborhoods remains flat, and more

Roberto Alejandro, a reporter for the Afro-American, recently acquired an email conversation between the executive vice president of the Maryland Food Bank and members of the city government from the end of April. Beth Martino from the Maryland Food Bank had reached out to Holly Freishtat, the food policy director for the Office of Sustainability, after April 27's riot and asked if there was any way the Maryland Food Bank could help out Baltimore communities: "With schools closed and some community grocery resources affected by events in the city, we want to assist i [sic] providing food in areas it is needed," she wrote. Vu Dang, the assistant deputy mayor for health, human services, education and youth, wrote back later in the email chain, "Our Officer of Emergency Management tells me that the most pressing need right now is to feed the hundreds of out-of-town officers who have come into the city all at once. Further, they have not gotten any word of a need among residents for food distribution." The idea that there wouldn't be "a need among residents for food distribution" seems staggeringly out of touch, given that schools were canceled that day and 84 percent of students in Baltimore qualify for free and reduced-price meals this year based on their family income. And, as Alejandro notes in his blog post about the email exchange, "For context, be aware that the only real grocery store servicing the Sandtown-Winchester area, the Stop, Shop, and Save, closed down in the summer of 2014, leaving area corner stores the main source of groceries left in the community. That is to say, the community most directly affected by the events of April 27 had been a veritable food desert for some time prior to the unrest, putting aside the obvious food access challenges that might arise in the aftermath of such an event." (Anna Walsh)

 

Banks still redline in Baltimore, according to a study by National Community Reinvestment Coalition. The NYT has a fair rundown of it. In Baltimore, lending in African-American neighborhoods far lags that in white neighborhoods, even when the borrowers have high incomes. This is not a perfect data point, of course: Incomes don't say much about credit history or debt ratios, and the data NCRC used does not include credit scores. But it's easy to see how lending patterns exacerbate existing patterns of disinvestment, followed by wrenching gentrification. "It is very difficult for borrowers of any income to be approved for mortgage loans in Baltimore City, where low- to moderate-income (LMI) census tracts are the majority," the report says. "An LMI applicant is more likely to receive a mortgage loan in wealthier neighborhoods in Baltimore County." Governing Magazine looked at housing affordability in the nation's top 25 markets, finding a troubling lack in most of them. Although Baltimore City was not covered in the Governing report, it's not much different from the cities covered. Affordable housing still lags demand by about half. The Urban Institute produced figures on the rental housing gap last summer: "Simply put, virtually no affordable housing units would be available to [extremely low-income] households absent the continued investment in federally assisted rental housing." An investment that has been steadily declining for three decades. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young has had his car broken into three times in eight days, according to The Sun. Thieves even got his car when it was parked outside City Hall. Think about that for a second: One of the most visible political figures in the city had his car broken into directly outside our main house of government. Isn't that kind of nuts? And get this: Young told The Sun's Luke Broadwater the security cameras outside City Hall weren't working at the time of the theft. Jesus! "I feel like any other citizen of Baltimore," Young said. "Crime hits everyone, even the president." As Broadwater notes, there have been 5,578 thefts from automobiles this year, up 2 percent. Young said the thieves took a watch, a phone, and other items. (Brandon Weigel)

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