Housing Segregation and Economic Mobility
Where a child grows will determine much about their life trajectory and outcomes. We believe it is unacceptable that Baltimore ranks dead last (100th out of the nation's 100 largest jurisdictions) in economic mobility for children from families with low income, especially Black children.
The ACLU of Maryland works to build opportunity out of Maryland’s lasting legacy of segregation. Our work began in 1995 with the filing of the landmark fair housing lawsuit, Thompson v. HUD, on behalf of 14,000 Black families living in Baltimore's public housing. From that litigation and settlements came new housing opportunities throughout Baltimore City and the region. The best known is the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, a national model, which now gives nearly 4,400 families and their children the option to live in better housing located in city and suburban areas of opportunity --- neighborhoods characterized by low rates or poverty, resource-rich schools, less crime, healthier neighborhood conditions and growing job opportunities.
In 2011, we joined with partner organizations to file two fair housing complaints with HUD alleging that policies and practices of the State of Maryland and Baltimore County had contributed to regional segregation and excluded affordable housing development from opportunity areas, Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign v. State and BNI and Baltimore County Branch, NAACP v. Baltimore County. Agreements reached in those cases in 2017 and 2016 are now spurring the expansion of housing opportunities for families throughout the Baltimore region.
Housing can be a platform for mobility out of poverty. A large and growing body of evidence from fields as diverse as economics and medicine find that children's outcomes improve and persist into adulthood when they have the chance to grow and thrive in stable homes in safe environments conducive to healthy child development. Our cross-cutting policy advocacy and litigation to undermine the vestiges of segregation and open new paths to upward mobility for children is grounded in this research and informed by the experiences of Baltimore families.