Enhancing livability by conserving and improving land for public open space is at the heart of our mission. We take this responsibility seriously, given that 70% of County residents lack adequate access to open space within a quarter mile of home.

Under current law, developers must provide 1,000 square feet of open space per dwelling unit or pay a “fee in lieu” thereof.  The County Open Space Manual provides details for meeting the requirement. Given the importance that these provisions play in our ability to deliver on our mission, we advocate for changes that will improve them. A running history of efforts to amend them, and our critique of same can be found here.


OPEN SPACE WAIVER FEES

FOOD INSECURITY

Between 2000 and 2012, the poor population in suburbs grew by 65 percent, more than twice the pace of growth in cities.  The face of poverty, and thus of food insecurity, is, increasingly, one of picket fences.  Roughly 15% of the U.S. Population, 13% of the State’s population, 23% of Baltimore City’s population, and 13% of Baltimore County’s population (about 105,000 people) are food insecure. Children are disproportionately impacted, with the statewide rate of food insecurity among children of 19% greatly outpacing the overall rate. As shown in the diagram at left, food insecurity is often a function of having to choose between buying healthy food and paying for basic needs like housing, utilities and medical expenses.  NeighborSpace seeks to use its new mapping capability to acquire land where food can be grown, in partnership with other organizations experienced in urban agriculture, to attack this pressing problem. Read more …



DISCONNECTED YOUTH

Disconnected youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who often are neither in school nor fully employed.  They are deemed “disconnected” because they leave school before graduating and disconnect from the labor force owing to a complex set of factors, among them structural poverty (i.e., living in an area that is geographically and demographically disassociated with opportunities for success), poor basic math and reading skills, and a scarcity of job opportunities.  As shown in the chart at left, Baltimore County has the 3rd highest number of disconnected youth in the State.

The most common method for reconnecting youth is through employment.  To that end, soft skills training and mentoring combined with community engagement, such as participation in a civic/service organization, have been shown to be promising pathways forward for disconnected youth.  NeighborSpace seeks a partner experienced in helping disconnected youth to develop a program to engage disconnected youth in activities on lands it owns or might acquire leading to marketable credentials in landscape trades, urban farming, or arborist apprenticeships. Read more …



13% of Our Fellow Baltimore County Citizens Have Faced These Difficult Dilemmas:

Source: Md. Governor’s Office for Children, 2015

Source: Feeding America, 2015

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