Some of Baltimore’s neighborhoods have recently struggled with economic, educational, housing and social challenges. The North Avenue corridor of West Baltimore has suffered from a steady decline in opportunity. The decline appears to be most pronounced in education and employment opportunities surrounding the corridor. This is especially worrisome, because broadly speaking, educated labor is one of the primary indicators of an economically healthy region. Over half of the residents had a high school degree or better in 1990 (58.1%), — even more in 2000 (65.7%) – but only 10.7% of residents held a bachelor’s degree or better in 2000. Although this did represent an increase over the 1990 level of 9.1%, this rate still lagged Baltimore City’s rate of 19.0% and the state of Maryland’s 35.1% rate – the third highest after DC and Massachusetts (the U.S. national average is 27.0%).
The community’s discouraging figures for employment of young, working-age residents is a major concern. In 2000, the unemployment rate for the neighborhood stood at 15.3%, compared to the city’s unemployment rate of 6.0%. A large number of residents rely on public transportation; in fact, between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of residents using public transportation roughly doubled – from 33.3% to 65.7%. This means long, inefficient commutes when employment opportunities move to the suburbs and exurbs. Also between 1990 and 2000, the neighborhood’s population decreased by 16.3%. In 2000, the median household income was $29,667, with 11% of residents receiving public assistance, and 25.35% of families living below the poverty level. In comparison, these same figures were $30,078, 7.3%, and 18.8%, respectively for the City of Baltimore. For Baltimore County, they were $50,667, 1.7%, and 4.5% respectively.