Southwest Is Among The Worst Off In City

July 12, 2009|By Olivia Bobrowsky | Olivia Bobrowsky,olivia.bobrowsky@baltsun.com

The neighborhood where a 5-year-old girl was hit by a stray bullet is among the bleakest areas of Baltimore, based on community health statistics.

Of the 55 city neighborhoods, Southwest Baltimore's life expectancy ranks third worst, at 64.2 years, a 2008 health profile found. Most of the other health indicators knock Southwest Baltimore into the lowest third.

Caroline Fichtenberg, the Health Department's chief epidemiologist, said that although other neighborhoods share Southwest Baltimore's dire circumstances, that area's poverty level - about 19 percent of the population - heavily contributes to its poor health. Carrollton Ridge, the neighborhood within Southwest Baltimore where the injured girl lives, is even worse, at 42.6 percent.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Sunday's editions about the health of Southwest Baltimore misstated the area's poverty rate. About 28.8 percent of its population lives below the poverty level, according to Caroline Fichtenberg, the Health Department's chief epidemiologist.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Genevieve Birkby, the city's deputy director for community programs, is heading a new program to improve environmental health in the community, covering housing, trash, pests and access to transportation and food. The initiative focuses on Southwest Baltimore because of its historical issues of lead poisoning and pollution.

This is a sample of data on Southwest Baltimore from a 2008 community health profile (all numbers cover 2002 to 2006, except where noted):

Southwest Baltimore Citywide

Accident deaths per 10,000 residents 4.6 2.8

Drug deaths per 10,000 residents 7.7 3.7

HIV/AIDS deaths per 10,000 residents 9.8 5.2

Percentage of children ages 0-6 with elevated lead levels* 11.8 4.6

Percentage of babies born to girls age 15 to 19 27 19

Percentage of residents age 16 to 64 unemployed** 43 34

* 2006 ** 2000

Source: Baltimorehealth.org/neighborhoodmap.html

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