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The aim of this paper was to evaluate the effects of revitalizing the under-invested neighborhoods of Baltimore by using underemployed, and unemployed residents, including the school dropouts, unskilled, and former prison inmate to create economic development. Interviews were conducted with the underemployed, employed, unemployed, government officials, security agencies and other stakeholders in Baltimore. The analysis reveals that only experienced contractors are hired to deconstruct the unwanted houses of the city. One nonprofit organization is focused on advocating and creating the job opportunities for job seekers and low-income workers by utilizing apprenticeship construction training. However, the organization failed to train the former inmate because the level of readiness of such participants was limited by low education, resources, substance abuse history, poor social skill, the competition of the street profitability, and issues of mental health. Furthermore, inappropriate policies and weak leadership had significantly contributed to economic hardship in the neighborhood of Baltimore. The study concludes that there is need to create a new social purpose, non profit business that will lead to employment for residents, and members of the community, and generate jobs and help revitalize the community.
Creating a Successful Model for Reforming, Retraining, and Employing Ex-Convicts in the Construction Trades in Baltimore
Baltimore's inner city neighborhoods are under-invested, and they have all the negative social and economic indicators common to other large United States cities. Poor strategies and ineffective policies in Baltimore have contributed to these employment barriers among the residents. There is a high degree of crimes, high dropouts, low rate of graduation, high poverty, and the physical and mental crisis of health in the city. The residents who are underemployed, unemployed, and unskilled are many in Baltimore. Moreover, many persons who have been incarcerated cannot find jobs. There are about 17000 vacant and abandoned buildings in the city that are idle (Poon, 2017). Baltimore's construction industry needs many more good workers but existing training programs have not been able to overcome, too many of the personal characteristics, that hinder successful performance. There is need to expand existing training programs by create a new program that offers the right package that will overcome those negative characteristics so that persons can succeed on the job. This paper thus focuses on evaluating the effects of revitalizing the under-invested neighborhoods of Baltimore by using underemployed, and unemployed residents, including the school dropouts, unskilled, and former prison inmate to create economic development and recommending an appropriate solution to the problem.
The research questions are as follows:
Can investment in human capital, especially former prisoners, drop-out youth and underemployed young adults have a measurable impact on under-invested neighborhood revitalization in Baltimore and be used as an economic development tool for families in underserved neighborhoods and communities?
How might training in construction, deconstruction and demolition provide economic, environmental and social vitality to distressed neighborhoods and address:
vacant and abandoned housing stock
career opportunities for re-entry, teen drop-out and the under employed
economic development of neighborhoods by community residents
What business entrepreneurial models are best to address these challenges: traditional business, social enterprise or non-profit? What are the financial implications to consider for each?
To answer these research questions, the study is guided by the following hypotheses:
Investment in human capital - quality education and training
Can offer the underemployed and unemployed adults, a path to life success.
It can enhance opportunities for under-served families and former convict-inmates
In particular, training in construction, deconstruction, and demolition can provide a solution
Can lead to jobs that also address the issues of vacant and abandoned housing stock, and economic development for neighborhoods
Baltimore has faced increasing challenges of economic desolation due to stagnation of wages in low and middle-wage jobs, and slow economic growth. This economic desolation in Baltimore can also be associated with the 1968 riots, where the communities of the black and white middle triggered the deterioration and abandonment (Neyfakh, 2015). During this time, the city lost significant industrial profit, and many people migrated to the suburbs. Neyfakh (2015) also explains how Baltimore has been suffering from racial segregation that has increased the poverty level of the city. There is high unemployment and underemployment among the youths in the city that limit them from the long-term success. The youths from middle-income families and low-income families are dropping out of school and experiencing difficulty in obtaining job prospects. The inability to find satisfying and enjoyable salary jobs with upward mobility is likely to result in higher rate of crime, physical and mental crisis of health, and weaker future career outcomes. According to Lerman & Packer (2015), the youths of Baltimore have experienced severe problems in completing high school and finding good salary jobs. Within five years, one in four students does not finish high school. Among those who proceed to graduate from high school, only a few graduates from high diploma courses, which contribute to high underemployment and unemployment in the city. As a result, most residents live below the line of poverty and are surrounded by abandoning and decayed neighborhoods.
Lerman & Packer (2015) study how apprenticeship can be used to engage youths and reduce the poverty level in Baltimore. This apprenticeship utilize both structure learning based on work, classroom-based vocational education, as well as production and paid work to assist the young people to master their occupation. The study demonstrates how apprenticeship can assist in reengaging the high school students as well as provide them with a new experience (Lerman & Packer, 2015). Youth apprenticeship also supports the youths in developing self-confidence and independence through the engagement in performing difficult tasks. In the occupational arena, the youths test their new identities and use practical tasks to experience learning as well as providing the services. Apprenticeships also enable the college and high school students to directly perceive the association between what is learned in the classroom and what is taught on the job, unlike the regular part-time jobs where such association is not clear to the youths. Besides, apprenticeships only involve constructive adults who serve as the teachers, mentors, and on-job supervisors. These adult mentors normally offer the guidance to the youths and also allow them to make mistakes to increase their experience. When serving as the job-supervisors, the adults supervise the youth to carry out their work in the classroom and at work. Additionally, apprenticeship was found to enable youths to develop work experience of real-life since they are judged using occupation's established standards in actual environments of working, facing constraints, unexpected difficulties, and deadlines that generally occur in a profession. According to Lerman & Packer (2015), apprenticeship for youths is beneficial since it requires a low cost to start since the employers pay the cost of training based on work and wages for apprenticeship. However, these costs are recovered through the productivity of the apprentices.
The studies also indicate that more than half of the Baltimore neighborhood residents between 2008 and 2012 lacked jobs, and nearly almost one-third of the buildings were abandoned or vacant in 2012 (Lopez, 2015). The challenges of Baltimore neighborhoods and communities resulted in a cycle of poverty, incarceration, and loss of the opportunity. According to Lopez (2015), the number of unemployed between ages 6 to 64 was reported to be 51.8%. Apart from high rates of unemployment in the Baltimore neighborhood, the residents also have a lower income level of the median household as compared Baltimore and violent rate of crime in the neighborhood is very high.
According to Poon (2017), about 17000 houses are vacant and sit boarded by Baltimore. These buildings include the one the city has deemed officially unlivable with walls and rooftops missing. The estimates from another survey of the community and Census indicate that other homes between 30,000 and 54,000 are unoccupied (Poon, 2017). The abandoned homes are more likely to lower the value of the property of the surrounding houses and attracting crimes, which in turn drive more of the Baltimore neighbors away from the city. Poon explains the use of astronomy to solve the urban blight of Baltimore. The astronomers usually relied on massive databases and wealth of studies to identify unoccupied buildings and neighborhoods. The statistical tool was developed that assisted in finding the empty homes and evaluate if they are about to be abandoned, which was significant in monitoring the distressed neighborhood. The model was based on various information such as electricity usage, water, postal deliveries, gas, and cell phone use. This data was useful in detecting the patterns that are abnormal to predict the future. Mock (2016) also explains how the city government of Baltimore spent $700 million to revitalize the neighborhood. The vacant buildings were demolished, where the project aimed at taking down 4000 shattered properties and then change those places to green spaces to later build new businesses and homes. This study also contributed in analyzing how training in deconstruction, demolition and construction will promote environmental, social, and economic vitality to struggling neighborhood, and how such training will address issues of abandoned and vacant housing stock, career opportunities for the residents, and neighborhood's economic development.
A study by Jordan (2015), also analyses how April 2015 riots contributed to economic hardship in Baltimore. Before the riots, the neighborhood of Baltimore received much attention where the 72 square block community was revived by James Rouse and Mayor Kurt L Schmoke. The riot caused losses for the multi-million dollar and mult...
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