Alliance's Web site gives statistics broken down by city neighborhood

New research tool can provide communities with `significant data'

October 11, 2001|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Want to know how your neighborhood compares to others in Baltimore? Is your community wealthier than others? Do you have more boarded-up homes, rats and trash?

Starting this week, there's a way to find out.

Check out Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance's new Web site - www.bnia.org - a collection of statistics broken down by neighborhood through color-coded maps.

The site has dozens of categories of statistics about everything from teen births and school test scores to average family income and rates of child abuse.

A quick search of the Web site reveals that the average household income in Midtown in the city's center was $33,000 for 1999. In Hamilton, in the northeast, the average was $48,000. In the Mount Washington/Cold Spring area, in the northwest, it was $132,000.

Another query shows that in South Baltimore, just south of Federal Hill, there were 59 teen births in 1997. In Beechfield/Ten Hills and West Hills, on the city's western edge, there were 12 that year.

The city's 260 neighborhoods are grouped into 55 zones, each of which gets updated information every month, said Odette T. Ramos, director of the alliance, which compiles the data.

"We're using the data effectively to tell us how we're doing over time. To measure how our neighborhoods are doing," said Ramos, a former community organizer in Homewood. "We bring it all together so it's accessible to neighborhoods in a way that makes sense."

Other features on the site include information about voter registration, government buildings, schools, libraries and hospitals.

The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance is a group of organizations that has been collecting information since 1999.

It is a member of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a network of 13 cities coordinated by the Urban Institute and supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The information comes from such entities as the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland Property View, Maryland Historic Trust, Family League of Baltimore City, the State Department of Education and the city Health Department, and from various university studies.

Part of the goal of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance is to be a "one-stop shop" for data and to tell the "complete" story of neighborhoods, according to the Web site.

"It'll be great to prove a point when you need something done," said Richard Anderson, president of the Brooklyn Curtis Bay Coalition. "It will help recognize the areas that need attention and the issues that need attention."

In Brooklyn and Curtis Bay, one of the big issues is vacant houses, Anderson said.

The map shows that there were 155 vacancy violations reported to the city in July. That seems like a lot when compared to Hamilton, in the northeast, where there were 14 for the same period. But in Southwest Baltimore there were 1,509 violations, which shows that although the problem is serious in Brooklyn and Curtis Bay, it's worse in other areas.

Izzy Patoka, the city's head of the office of neighborhoods, said community leaders will use the information as a measurement tool.

"This is a means of empowerment. It will provide communities with significant data," Patoka said. "It is a good working tool for leadership."

Neighborhood information also can be accessed by calling Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, 410-235-0944, or by going to its office, 2300 N. Charles St., second floor.

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