Our public schools remain highly segregated along racial and socioeconomic lines, with more than one-third of U.S. students attending schools considered to be segregated, according to a recent analysis. How does school segregation like this continue 69 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. the Board of Education? The answer is one school board decision at a time.

One such decision is currently before the Baltimore County School Board. As a result of recent school construction and expansion projects, the board is redrawing several of the middle school boundaries in the central and eastern part of the county. A boundary committee selected from several possible maps to recommend to the school board, three of which would have resulted in Carroll Manor Elementary students moving from their currently assigned schools such as Ridgely Middle School (where 76% of the students are white or Asian and only 21% qualify for free/reduced school lunches) to Pine Grove Middle School (where currently 42% are white or Asian and 56% qualify for free/reduced lunches).

The reaction to this among many Carroll Manor parents has been sadly predictable. A website has sprung up along with corresponding yard signs in the Carroll Manor area protesting the change. In news stories, Carroll Manor parents have stated that they would do whatever it takes to keep their children from attending Pine Grove Middle in the interests of keeping “historical communities together.” In official comments submitted to the school board, many Carroll Manor parents have submitted identical form letters decrying the prospect of their children being educated in an “unfamiliar community where they are not socially established.” All of this euphemistic language is simply an attempt to veil what is really going on here: an effort to keep the children of Carroll Manor from having to attend school with their neighbors closer to the city line.

The boundary committee selected a map that gives Carroll Manor parents their wish: Their children won’t be zoned for Pine Grove.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

As a Pine Grove Middle School parent, it is disheartening to see members of our community going to such lengths to ensure that their children not be exposed to peers of a lower tax bracket. Furthermore, we should acknowledge that economic segregation in our country greatly overlaps with racial segregation and reckon with the question of whether our actions contribute to that.

Rick Martell, Glen Arm

Baltimore should not subsidize developments that create new luxury rental units but nothing affordable to lower-income people, says Loraine Arikat, a policy analyst and Baltimore resident. (Allan Forrest)

Lack of inclusionary housing law perpetuates segregated Baltimore

Baltimore City’s inclusionary housing law expired more than eight months ago. Lack of an effective inclusionary housing policy reinforces a system that subsidizes segregation. Access to affordable housing is an economic and racial justice issue that affects all aspects of people’s lives, from employment to health to financial stability.

Speaking for the Inclusionary Housing Coalition, we have a simple demand: the city should not subsidize developments that create new luxury rental units but nothing affordable to lower-income people. From 2014 through 2022, Baltimore doled out $75 million to multifamily housing developers through just one tax subsidy — a 10-year tax credit for “high performance” projects. Virtually all the 6,621 units created through this special tax subsidy were luxury market-rate units, the vast majority in predominantly white neighborhoods, mostly around the waterfront. This tax subsidy acts in effect to subsidize segregation — continuing Baltimore’s well-documented history racial segregation in housing.

How did we get here? Baltimore passed a law in 2007 that required developers receiving “major public subsidies” such as tax increment financing and tax credits to ensure at least 20% of their projects’ units were affordable to lower-income tenants. But a loophole allowed developers to apply to the housing commissioner for a waiver by contending that the subsidies were insufficient to offset the cost of providing affordable units. The Department of Housing and Community Development granted the waivers almost automatically, without any showing that the tax increment financing, tax credit or other subsidy that the development was getting was insufficient. The city then allowed the law to expire at the end of June 2022.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Only 37 affordable inclusionary housing units were created during the past 15 years, and today, with no law in place, developers are getting Baltimore subsidies with no obligation to provide affordable units.

In summer 2022, the Inclusionary Housing Coalition formed, made up of more than 21 organizations. We worked with Councilwoman Odette Ramos to craft a replacement law that addresses the flaws in the 2007 law. Under this legislation, all developments of 20 units or more receiving public subsidies would be required to price at least 10% of their units at levels affordable to those earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income, or $60,400 for a family of three.

Under the legislation, when additional federal, state or city subsidies are made available, developers must use them and provide an additional 5% of affordable units targeted to the lowest-income households.

The Inclusionary Housing Coalition also supports a recommendation by the city’s consultant, Enterprise Community Partners, that an additional 15% tax credit over 10 years be applied specifically for these affordable inclusionary units. The city Finance Department estimates it would cost between $1 million and $2 million to increase the tax credit.

Loraine Arikat, Baltimore

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Loraine Arikat is a senior policy analyst with 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

Transition to adulthood for people with developmental disabilities

Families walk through row of open doors and silhouette of a youth
Families can access services to help people with developmental disabilities transition into adulthood, a services coordinator says. (Laila Milevski/The Baltimore Banner)

As individuals with developmental disabilities transition to adulthood, many require support and services to help them lead fulfilling and meaningful lives. In Maryland, school support services end at age 21. At that time, families are charged with finding services and programs to help their loved ones with disabilities shift to adult life. This often is a stressful time for individuals with disabilities and their families, but it doesn’t have to be so hard.

Families can take steps to access the needed services and to ease the transition. In Maryland, July 1 marks the start of services. In August or September, at the beginning of their last school year, begin researching and interviewing local agencies to determine which offer the best services and environment for your loved one.

Contact the Maryland Developmental Disability Administration, which serves as a coordinated service delivery system for people with developmental disabilities. Through that agency, families can apply for federal funding to support loved ones by completing and submitting the DDA eligibility application. Once approved by the agency for services in Maryland, the person with a disability will be assigned a coordinator for community services who plays a crucial role.

Families should assess which programs and services will be most beneficial for the person with a disability. Questions to ask include:

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

● What is the average tenure of staff at your program?

● Is the program center- or community-based?

● What is the ratio of staff to individuals?

● What kind of services and supports are offered? Mental health? Physical? Emotional-behavioral?

● Will learning and independent living skills be incorporated into the program?

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

● What do individuals do throughout the day? Do they have a say in crafting their days?

For more than 50 years, Bello Machre has offered children and adults with developmental disabilities the services, opportunities, and support they need to live full, independent, rich lives. I am lucky enough to serve as the link between families and the services available to them.

Kathy Buss, Glen Burnie

Kathy Buss is service outreach coordinator for Bello Machre.

More From The Banner