Wandering Eye: 'The Myth of Baltimore as a Cheap Place to Live,' the Billie Holiday centennial, and more

On the eve of Billie Holiday's centennial tomorrow, The Baltimore Sun's Tim Smith takes a look at what the singer means to the city and the nation, taking note of a new biography, tribute concerts, and more. Though the city has no official celebration planned—come on, y'all—there are a number of events going on throughout the city, including an April 12 show on the 200 block of Durham Street, where Lady Day lived as a kid. But the highlight of the story has got to be the reflections of Ethel Ennis, Baltimore's grand dame of jazz, who received early encouragement from Holiday. (Baynard Woods)


The Baltimore Chop has a long, researched piece on "The Myth of Baltimore as a Cheap Place to Live," and it's worth a read. The Chop's thesis is that Baltimore is not cheap for white people who don't wish to live in predominately black neighborhoods. He maps out the "White L" and some asking prices and rents within it, putting the lie to the Zillow data which lumps the city into one cohesive unit to arrive at an "average" home price of $107,000. The median white household income is about $54,000, Chop estimates, which gets you a $154,000 house budget. "At a $154k budget a buyer looking for a decent home is priced out of most white neighborhoods entirely. You're not going south of the harbor, period. You'll find nothing south of Eastern Ave on the east side and the best you'll do between Eastern and Baltimore Street is a very small house, possibly in an alley. Who wants to go to the top of their budget to live in an alley?" he writes (all sic). "You might find something in your budget in Hamden or Remington, but looking in both neighborhoods today we're seeing a combined total of six houses under $154k, mostly under 1000 sq feet." It's all quite fascinating, and it almost illustrates the point that needs to be made—almost, because The Chop does not break out household income estimates by class as well as race. The market is driven by developers catering to the top 10 percent of earners. That is why "affordable"—in terms of getting developer subsidies—is usually "affordable to someone with an income less than 80 percent of the area median." The area median—which includes the county—is about $80,000. That means the "low income" threshold in Baltimore is above the area median for white people, as estimated by The Chop. Why would developers build anything cheaper if they can reap huge subsidies without doing so? (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Hey, want to feel like a real turd today? Of course you do. The Washington Post features some of the amazing things people both young and old are achieving: "A child just days away from her third birthday is setting archery marks in India. Earlier this month, a 95-year-old man set a world record in a 200-meter indoor race." Now meet Mieko Nagaoka, a 100-year-old Japanese woman who became the first centenarian to complete a 1,500-meter freestyle swim. Nagaoka is the holder of 24 age-group records and says she hopes to swim until she's 105. And here we felt good about walking to work this morning. (Brandon Weigel)

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