Addressing Baltimore’s Vacant Land Problem

Addressing Baltimore’s Vacant Land Problem

The Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership (BUWP) works to develop projects devoted to protecting and restoring urban waters; promoting community revitalization and strengthening the social fabric through the removal of blight, establishment of open spaces, and creation of economic development to serve as catalyst opportunities for disadvantaged neighborhoods, and capitalize on the social and economic benefits derived from improved urban waters and adjacent lands.

SavATree provides project support to the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station; a key partner in the BUWP. They also facilitate linkages between BUWP and other agency efforts in Baltimore. Mike Galvin, Director of SavATree is the Baltimore Urban Waters Ambassador/ Project Manager.

Setting

Baltimore Maryland, home to over 30,000 vacant and abandoned lots and numerous economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, is also home to some of the most innovative job creation strategies and vacant lot reclamation projects in the nation. Through the Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership (BUWP), waterways are being cleaned up, communities are reconnecting with their urban waters, and abandoned lots are being transformed for community benefit.

The BUWP is focused on the Patapsco Watershed, which flows to the Baltimore City Harbor and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. The watershed includes Maryland’s largest population area of approximately 650,000 people . The eastern portion of the Patapsco River is in a highly developed region and is subject to trash buildup and pollution from wet weather events.

Recognizing a need in Baltimore to not only address water quality in the Patapsco watershed and access to Baltimore’s waterways, the City of Baltimore knew there was a need for community revitalization and the opportunity to capitalize on the social and economic benefits derived from improved urban waters and adjacent lands.

The Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership, led by the USDA Forest Service’s Baltimore Field Station, is working to develop projects devoted to protecting and restoring urban waters; promoting community revitalization and strengthening the social fabric through the removal of blight, establishment of open spaces, and creation of economic development to serve as catalyst opportunities for disadvantaged neighborhoods.

 

Structure of the BUWP

The BUWP was one of the original seven pilot communities selected in 2011 to be an Urban Waters Federal Partnership location. The Partnership is made up of approximately 60 partner agencies and, through the efforts of a partnership Ambassador, serves as the convener and planner of periodic meetings. The Baltimore team has developed a business model for coordination and collaboration and identified four sub‐teams to lead their collaborative efforts, each centered on local projects and led by local partners. Keys to success include the ability to identify projects that are realistic and long lasting and to partner with organizations who work to address Baltimore’s long history of segregation and unemployment. The BUWP prioritizes projects that work to build social capital and that invest in collaboration rather than investing in huge capital projects. These types of projects help neighborhoods become more sustainable.

 

Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership Successes

HumanIm-Job readiness and workforce development

HumanIm, a nonprofit organization behind a unique job training opportunity involving the demolition of row houses in Baltimore. Understanding that the City was committed to demolishing a certain number of abandoned row houses in a certain amount of time, HumanIm approached the City to discuss the idea of deconstruction and repurposing of valuable and historic materials used to build the row houses. The City of Baltimore and the U.S. Forest Service put their support behind HumanIm. HumanIm’s deconstruction social enterprise, DETAILS, has been hugely successful as a means for job training for Baltimore residents who are coming out of the criminal justice system and are in need of skills and job training.

Read the full post here: http://www.urbanwaterslearningnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Baltimore-Urban-Waters-Partnership1.pdf