Amidst the standard information requested from anyone who creates a profile on our website, registers for one of our events, or donates to us, is a simple and open-ended question: Why Baltimore?
The unrest and associated riots that occurred in late-April left many residents and leaders looking for answers to this query, myself included.
While I have prided our staff on their ability to direct people toward money-saving resources, to recite the unique attributes of the Highlandtown and Howard Park, Hamilton and Hunting Ridge neighborhoods, and to inspire others to “heart” city life—for the first time I had no answer for, “what now?”
For 18 years we’ve championed city life, extolling the values of walkability and affordability. We’ve launched new programs to support employers’ and employees’ interest in Live Near Your Work and for families to discover a “Way To Stay”’—all the while continuing our core work of promoting Baltimore City as the location of choice for residential living. In one day, I wondered if all of these accomplishments had been undone. As the city’s cheerleader, I felt defeated.
But then, what followed shocked even us:
These outcomes confirmed why Live Baltimore is even more relevant in today’s city. Our actions, which I’m proud to share in this annual report, more than any words I could have shared this past spring, or even in this letter, speak volumes about our impact on Baltimore, its neighborhoods, and most importantly the residents to whom I owe an incredible amount of gratitude. Thank you for showing this diehard supporter of our city, “Why Baltimore?“ once again.
–Steven Gondol, Executive Director
In a year that caused all of Baltimore to reflect on our city’s past, present and future, Live Baltimore has undergone its own self-assessment and asked: do our initiatives represent the best steps for helping to grow the city’s population? Are we using our resources effectively, providing assistance to those who need it to become homeowners and anchor our communities? And, are we communicating honestly and persuasively with the public about what is wonderful about city life and our aspirations for how it can become better for all?
To answer those questions, we’ve taken a deep dive into the data to look closely at who Live Baltimore’s customers are (and who they are not). We have also benefitted from our participation in the Grow Baltimore initiative, which produced a substantial body of data and conclusions regarding who is migrating into, out of, and within Baltimore City, and why. We’re relying on the data in lots of ways, but perhaps most visibly through our new “Way to Stay” family retention initiative, which provides expansive information about family-friendly neighborhoods, city schools, and other resources important to residents with children. As part of that initiative, Live Baltimore has held a number of weekend coffee events for families who have found themselves on the waitlist for charter schools so that we can talk to them about other options for schools in the city.
We began managing, through a lottery process, the two incentive programs that Baltimore City Housing offers in conjunction with our organization. To encourage those thinking of buying a home to do so in the city, with the assistance of available incentive programs, we continued to conduct twice-yearly “Buying Into Baltimore” events and quarterly “City Living Starts Here” tours of individual neighborhoods. And when the naysayers told us that no one would choose to buy a home in the city because of conflict here, we relied on data—facts —to show them that people are still buying homes here, that home sales are up, and in many cases prices are up, too.
Finally, we began a happy hour series, hosted monthly by a Live Baltimore board member, to showcase local businesses, arts institutions, and other neighborhood sites of interest. We believe that informal events like this, which showcase the best of our city, our neighbors, and our institutions, are why people want to live in Baltimore now and into the future. (Check our website for the next event and come join us.)
We are optimistic that a renewed vigor and scrutiny in our city will provide for a brighter future, a more vibrant population, and an opportunity for happy and healthy neighborhoods for all. Change may come more slowly than we would like, but at Live Baltimore we are proud to be part of that change. We hope you will continue to support our work in whatever way you can and help us build an even greater city in the coming years.
–Stacie Tobin, President of the Board
Our 2014 annual report extoled the opportunity to shape perceptions of our city as it took to the national stage for its War of 1812 celebrations. But in late FY 2015, defending Baltimore, the quality of its neighborhoods, and the character of its residents became a necessity rather than choice. Live Baltimore’s broad reach, to communities all across the city, has never been more important to us.
From Live Baltimore’s perspective, we’re pleased to share that our challenges were not insurmountable in 2015. We remained as committed to promoting Baltimore as a residential destination of choice in latter part of our fiscal year as we were in the first 8 months and 26 days. And even in tough times, we stood fast, holding our spring homebuying fair, Buying Into Baltimore, at Edmondson Westside High School on May 9th, 2015.
To the readers of this report, thank you. Thank you for donating, volunteering, attending our events, collaborating with us, and being a friend to our organization in this eighteenth year of our work to grow Baltimore. Without your time, financial support, referrals of new residents, and everything else that you do, the results detailed in this publication would not be possible.
Live Baltimore stepped up to the plate in a whole new way in FY 2015, as the organization delved even deeper into Baltimore’s growth strategies. We worked to balance new initiatives with time-honored tactics — serving additional audiences AND improving our level of service overall.
"Belair-Edison is the best kept secret in Baltimore. You’re 3 miles from the harbor, 3 blocks from the park, 2 blocks from the golf course and there’s beautiful walking.”
Live Baltimore prides itself on serving not only as a local relocation resource, but as a national one as well. (For the second year in a row, our staff has assisted movers from more than 40 states.)
This national reach is perhaps no better personified than by Robert and Judy Dawson, who moved to Baltimore from Portland, Oregon this February after more than two years of in-depth research.
When choosing a city for retirement, Judy says, “I knew I had to have world class healthcare.” So she started there — investigating Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and parts of North Carolina.
“I stumbled on Baltimore on the Internet. Live Baltimore’s site came up. I went directly there and I never left,” recalls Judy. “Live Baltimore opened my mind. The website set up is wonderful!”
While online tools were a jumping off point, the Dawsons say Live Baltimore’s staff sealed the deal on their move during a cross-country visit. “People from Live Baltimore were waiting to meet us at Buying Into Baltimore, which made us feel great,” says Judy. “I could trust that I had a professional contact with a comprehensive plan for me.”
After committing to Baltimore, there was the business of finding a neighborhood. Through Live Baltimore, the Dawsons discovered Healthy Neighborhoods Inc. and St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center. “We wanted urban life,” says Judy, “but I’m too old to completely pioneer a neighborhood.”
“We picked Belair-Edison because it’s going to grow,” says Robert, as he brags about the adjacent trails at Herring Run Park, Clifton Golf Course, and walking path at Lake Montebello (where you can find him and his two German shepherds often).
Working with Live Baltimore partner agent, Kim Lally, and partner lender Jon Wald, the Dawsons were able to secure over $30,000 in incentives toward their Belair-Edison home purchase (yet another key selling point for this couple on a fixed income).
To other retirees considering Baltimore, Judy says, “you’ll be welcomed with open arms. People are excited to see you moving in!”
In addition, the Dawsons say they consider Baltimore “an opportunity for adventure that’s affordable. The whole Mid-Atlantic has exciting things going on. You can get to DC for 8 bucks!”
World class healthcare, affordable real estate, property tax incentives for seniors…the list of positives the Dawsons see in Baltimore goes on and on.
“Our friends thought we were nuts,” Judy says with a chuckle. “All they knew was The Wire.” Now, as the Dawsons put finishing touches on its décor, they’re proud to share that there’s a waiting list of visitors for their guest room.
When Nykia Jackson received notice that her son, Zion, had been waitlisted at her charter school of choice, she was disappointed to say the least. Luckily for Nykia, her family was one of over 500 to receive intervention in 2015 through Live Baltimore’s pilot, charter school waitlist event.
After receiving an invitation by mail, Nykia and more than 50 other waitlisted families gathered in Live Baltimore’s office space on March 21st—joined by partner organizations like Greater Homewood Community Corporation and Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance, teachers, community school coordinators, and parents of enrolled children from a variety of Baltimore’s public elementary schools.
Over coffee and donuts, the group listened to a presentation about the newly available “Way to Stay” resources on LiveBaltimore.com and got information about the variety of public, private, and charter options still available to them for the coming school year.
Although Nykia and her son’s father had already done extensive research into school options for Zion, the event served to educate the family in a number of new areas. Most importantly, it connected Nykia to advocates for Barclay Elementary Middle School—where Zion would later enroll.
As an employee of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Nykia knew Hopkins was investing in schools, but she had no idea which ones.
“Hearing that Barclay was one of those schools at the event and learning more about its STEM program made me take a look,” recounts Nykia. “Once we decided to enroll, Barclay was great in helping us to facilitate the [transfer] process.”
When asked about the Way to Stay event, Nykia shares, “I learned a lot from attending the event—especially about the flaws in the [GreatSchools.org] rating system. Numbers can say one thing, and talking to people can truly give you a different perspective.”
With Zion now enrolled at Barclay, leaving the city is off the table (at least for now). Nykia’s family is optimistic about their future at Barclay and planning to remain in their Perring Loch home for years to come.
" Numbers can say one thing, and talking to people can truly give you a different perspective.”
"As a leader of a university in downtown Baltimore, it was important to me to say with authority, ‘I live in the city.”
It’s no surprise that a published scholar like University of Baltimore’s School of Public Policy’s new Dean, Roger Hartley, would do his research when relocating to Baltimore. But the way he did it specially illustrates just how Live Baltimore’s many outreach touchpoints work in unison to cultivate new city residents.
Roger’s introduction to Live Baltimore came in the form of a City Living Kit, purchased by University of Baltimore (UB) and delivered to him as part of his recruiting package. Getting a City Living Kit was “extremely exciting and useful,” says Roger.
But Live Baltimore’s work wasn’t done there. Despite UB’s organizational support, many individuals Roger met during the hiring process told him, “You cannot live in the city,” or “I would not raise my child in the city.”
“As a leader of a University in downtown Baltimore, it was important to me to say with authority that I live in the city,” shares Roger. “[Additionally,] for me, family life is determined by how much time I’m going to spend on the road.”
And that meant finding a home close enough to UB’s Mid-Town Belvedere campus that Roger could shoot home for dinner and back to the office for an evening meeting—something he claims would not be possible with a home outside of the city.
Determined to live in town, Roger turned to LiveBaltimore.com for a more detailed investigation of city neighborhoods. And, as father of a young son, he logged on at the perfect time—just as Live Baltimore’s “Way to Stay” School Profiles became available. By looking at featured public schools and cross-checking their zoned neighborhoods, Roger was encouraged to examine areas he otherwise wouldn’t have considered.
Before exploring the website, Roger thought he’d end up in Bolton Hill, Canton, or Roland Park — the only places he had friends or other connections. “We honestly never would have found Hamilton-Lauraville without Live Baltimore—not in a million years,” Roger shares.
From his narrowed list of top neighborhoods, Roger reached out to Neighborhood Know-It-Alls featured on Live Baltimore’s website. “The Know-It-Alls rock! People were competing for us!” says Roger.
Ultimately Live Baltimore helped Roger find Pam Wallace of Hamilton-Lauraville Healthy Neighborhoods (whose personal tour did wonders for his view of the region). With his focus narrowed on the northeast, Roger used our “Way to Stay” Family Organizations link to connect with HL Sprouts (the Hamilton-Lauraville area parent group.)
Recommendations he received there led to a local real estate agent who brought the family to their new home in Glenham-Belhar. (And, although the Hartleys ultimately chose to enroll in private school, Roger credits the affordability of Glenham-Belhar with easing their decision to do so.)
Of his experience with Live Baltimore, Roger shares, “Live Baltimore is especially important to someone like me who’s starting at ground zero, wondering where do I live in this big city with so much to offer, but also with a lot of problems.”
We’re proud to be here for new recruits to Baltimore, like Roger, at businesses and institutions big and small. With City Living Kits, online resources, expert partners, unmatched Know-It-Alls, and new tools for families, we certainly have much to offer them.
Our focus on reaching new individuals was evident in 2015, with 58% of all customers working with us for the first time.
Live Baltimore worked with a diverse audience of current and prospective residents in 2015. Our work touched individuals in every age bracket, from each of the city’s major racial categories, and from a broad spectrum of incomes.
Live Baltimore customers helped drive over $194.8 million in total home sales, across 187 distinct Baltimore City neighborhoods.
In the first year of ownership alone, properties purchased in 2015 by Live Baltimore customers will generate more than $8.5 million in city transfer, recordation, and property tax revenues.
As in years past, our customers included many incentive award recipients. In 2015, Live Baltimore helped to directly facilitate 76 downpayment and closing cost awards to homebuyers, through Buying Into Baltimore and City Living Starts Here events, for a total of $361,000 in combined incentive assistance.
Live Baltimore's customers' home purchases accounted for a third or more of the home sales in 16 city neighborhoods.
|Neighborhood||Percentage of Purchases
by Live Baltimore Customers
|Forest Park Golf Course||50%|
|Lower Edmondson Village||33%|
Live Baltimore’s marketing and outreach efforts had their greatest impact in Heritage Crossing, Forest Park Golf Course, Gay Street, Panway/Braddish Avenue, and Ednor Gardens-Lakeside.
Live Baltimore was funded through a variety of sources in 2015, including:
2015 brought new initiatives to life and highlighted incredible opportunities for 2016. As Live Baltimore embarks on our new fiscal year, we’re rising to meet the needs of our ever-evolving city.
Thank you to our FY 2015 individual, corporate, and foundation supporters.
“As a high school teacher I think very intentionally about my philanthropy. I don’t have the capacity to give much—so when I do give I make sure it is to organizations that make a large impact. And that’s why I am proud to give to Live Baltimore. The core of Live Baltimore’s work is to increase residency in our city. With an expanded tax base we will be able to provide more opportunities and more resources for our young people. That’s a mission I think everyone can get behind.”
Driving Live Baltimore’s mission through the streets of Baltimore City and beyond: an extra special thank you goes out to those who purchased “I ♥ City Life” license plates this year!
"As a lifelong Baltimore resident, I'm grateful for the work that Live Baltimore does to support city living. Baltimore is a product of its people, and Live Baltimore does an amazing job showing off our city to our newest residents.”
Every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this listing. If we have inadvertently omitted your name or listed it incorrectly, please accept our apologies and notify us of the error.
* Board of Directors as of December 2015 (date of publication)
This report was compiled by Live Baltimore and reflects Fiscal Year 2015 (July 2014–June 2015). Live Baltimore is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Maryland. A copy of our current financial statement is available upon request from our office. Financial documents and information about Live Baltimore submitted to the State of Maryland under the Maryland Charitable Solicitations Act are available from the Office of the Secretary of State for the cost of copying and postage. Copies of our federal tax returns (known as Form 990) may be found at www.guidestar.org.