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On April 21, BRHP hosted law professor and author, Sheryll Cashin, to discuss her book White Space, Black Hood, and approach to addressing the legacy of redlining and hypersegregation across the country. We hosted this conversation in April during National Fair Housing Month to shift the narrative around poor Black neighborhoods and recommit ourselves to the movement for housing justice. As you may recall, BRHP hosted Dr. Lawrence Brown for a similar conversation in February 2021. As housing mobility leaders and fair housing advocates, we welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation and calls for action to address the injustices our communities face. Our conversation with Professor Cashin highlighted a frustrating history and pattern, but also encouraged us to think about solutions.

Professor Cashin’s call to action: abolition and repair of harmful systems. As a graduating political science student at Morgan State University, learning history is essential to dismantling oppressive policies and practices, and to creating new ones that drive progression and opportunity for all members of community. Professor Cashin kicked off the discussion with a presentation highlighting her more than two decades of research on the processes of residential caste with a particular focus on our home city of Baltimore. Professor Cashin broke down the ways racist policies have created and continue to create high poverty “Black hoods” and high opportunity white spaces. She also outlined steps to abolish the harm processes and repair communities.

Here are my takeaways from the conversation:

1. Progress has always been met with opposition

I learned that throughout history as subordinating Black institutions were removed, new subordinating Black institutions replaced them. Professor Cashin traced the institutions of slavery, Jim Crow, and the ghetto to explain her point. She argues that “hoods” have been created and maintained through policy actions, law, and stereotypes (ex. thugs, ghetto) to justify subordination of groups of people. States overinvest and exclude in affluent white spaces and disinvest, prey upon, and contain in high poverty Black spaces. Professor Cashin outlined three processes of residential caste – boundary maintenance (ex. exclusionary housing, urban renewal displacement), opportunity hoarding (ex. overinvestment and disinvestment of services, public goods, and infrastructure), and surveillance (ex. “War on Drugs”) – and provided recent examples of each with a focus on the cancellation of the Red Line Project, which would have provided a great economic benefit to lower income Baltimoreans.

2. Baltimore is a case study for residential caste in America

During the antebellum era, Baltimore had the largest free Black population among slave-holding states. As late as the 1890s, Black people could live wherever they could buy a house, as there wasn’t a Jim Crow caste at the time. Professor Cashin focuses on Baltimore in the first chapter of her book, using it as a case study for residential caste because of these early progressive beginnings. She argues that Baltimore is the birthplace of this type of neighborhood inequality. During our conversation she referenced two prominent Baltimore legal leaders – W. Ashbie Hawkins and George W.F. McMechen – who were early resisters of inequality in the city. We also reviewed the history of hypersegregation in Baltimore through different planning maps, providing a visual for the city’s evolution to a residential caste system.

3. There is hope for the future

I was inspired to learn that there are solutions to the issues of our cities, and it is as simple as reversing harmful processes. Professor Cashin proposed many strategies, including inclusionary zoning, racial equity investment, and humanization and care. She stresses that historically disadvantaged neighborhoods should be prioritized in investment decisions. One strategy towards humanization that she proposed using was Peacemaker Fellowships to help reduce crime by helping offenders become assets in their community through intentional investment. Professor Cashin also referenced strategies like BRHP’s Baltimore Housing Mobility Program in relocating community members from high-risk communities. Additional strategies included civic mobilization efforts to energize community members that typically would not vote and creating multiracial coalitions in advocacy efforts. In Professor Cashin’s January 2022 op-ed in Politico she highlights the importance of multiracial coalitions working together to dismantle unjust systems.

Since our conversation with Professor Cashin, I feel more confident that there are long-term solutions to end the trauma and exploitation of Black communities. Professor Cashin is bold in her calls to action, and I am encouraged that many of these calls have already been proven to work in other cities. I am inspired to unite with like-minded individuals to be a part of the solution of repairing and rebuilding our communities.

Watch the replay of our event below and let us know what you think.

You can purchase White Space, Black Hood at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/609000/white-space-black-hood-by-sheryll-cashin/.

Jocelyn Daniels is BRHP’s Communications and Special Projects Intern and a graduating senior, studying political science, at Morgan State University.

Momentum grows for Baltimore health and housing demonstration with additional funding from the Weinberg Foundation

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2022

Contact: Tiffani Long, tlong@brhp.org, 667-207-2154

Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership (BRHP) announced today that it was the recipient of a $225,000 grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to administer the Healthy Children Voucher Demonstration, a program that will assist 150 Baltimore City families move to better quality housing to improve their health outcomes. The initiative is a partnership between BRHP, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), researchers from Johns Hopkins, and local healthcare providers, and has the goal of addressing underlying causes of poor health, low educational attainment, and intergenerational poverty.

The funding will support the implementation of the program over two years and will operate in conjunction with BRHP’s Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, which helps over 4,300 families annually access and transition to better quality housing and neighborhoods throughout the Baltimore region through a coupling of Housing Choice Vouchers and pre- and post-move counseling services. The program will target families with children who can benefit medically and developmentally from making a move to a healthier home environment.

BRHP previously received a one-year planning phase grant from the Kresge Foundation in 2019 as a part of its Advancing Health Equity Through Housing Initiative followed by a two-year implementation grant from the foundation in June 2021 that will fund the program in conjunction with the Weinberg Foundation grant. 

“We are grateful for the support of the Weinberg Foundation towards this critical housing and health initiative. Their longstanding commitment to meeting the basic needs of people experiencing poverty is admirable and we are proud to be a partner,” said Adria Crutchfield, executive director of the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership. “With their support, we will be able to give families access to the supportive housing environments they need to improve their health outcomes.”

The program will launch in 2022 and will track the health outcomes of participants through interviews and surveys following their transition to new homes. The initial focus of the program is to give healthcare providers a mechanism to address patients’ medical conditions through healthier housing.

For more background on the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership: www.brhp.org

For more background on The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation: https://hjweinbergfoundation.org/

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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership Contact: Tiffani Long, tlong@brhp.org, 667-207-2154

Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership (BRHP) announced today that it appointed four new members to its board of directors who will help support the nonprofit’s work in expanding housing choices and opportunities for families with low incomes. The newly elected members have expertise in advocacy, social work, business and marketing, education, and health, and include representation from outside of the Baltimore region. BRHP has added a total of ten new board members since 2020 to support the expansion of the organization’s mission from housing to the intersections of health, economic mobility, and education. The four members began their three-year terms effective November 18, 2021.

The new board members include:

Caylin Young, Deputy Director, Office of Equity and Civil Rights, City of Baltimore

Courtney McKenney, Social Worker, Purposeful Miles, LLC; Former Participant, Baltimore Housing Mobility Program

Sonya Brathwaite, Co-founder and Managing Director, Federal Street Strategies

Steven M. Clark, MD, General and Bariatric Surgeon, General Surgical Care South; Director of Bariatric Medicine, Community Surgical Center South, Community Physicians Network

“As BRHP looks to expand its impact, adding new expertise and energy to our board will be an asset to the organization as it navigates new territory,” said Joshua Civin, BRHP board chair. “We are proud to add these well-respected colleagues to our board of directors and look forward to their contributions.

“Diversity of leadership is integral to BRHP’s success. Our new board members bring a depth of personal and professional experience, and a commitment to equity that is invaluable,” said Adria Crutchfield, BRHP executive director. “We are in a pivotal time in history as momentum grows for making transformative change to our institutions, systems, and policies for the greater good and I look forward to working with our new members as we transform the Baltimore region and beyond.”

The organization’s outgoing board members include founding members Bert Hash Jr., retired president and chief executive officer of the Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore and Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, who will serve in high regard as directors emeriti. Hash and Tegeler join former board member Robert Embry on the newly formed emeritus board.

“Both Bert and Phil have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to supporting the mission of BRHP through their multiple years of service as both committee chairs and members, and we thank them for believing in our mission, offering invaluable support, and leading our path to success,” said Adria Crutchfield.

A full list of BRHP’s board of directors can be found here.

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