Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as Emblem of Growing Inequality

In a recent report entitled "A Tale of Two Baltimores," RT America focused its coverage of growing inequality in the United States on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, also the current focal point of NESRI partner United Workers‘ Campaign for Fair Development.  The report highlights the incongruity between the tourist-oriented commercial luxury represented by the Inner Harbor, considered by many as an example of successful urban revitalization, and the evidence of ever-increasing poverty among Baltimore’s residents.  With an unemployment rate of 11.4% — and 20% of Baltimore’s population living below the poverty line — the report highlights the potentially disastrous consequences of Obama’s recently announced budget cuts in a community where 30% of residents depend on food stamps to feed their families.  The report also notes the abusive labor practices of businesses operating at the Harbor — including dramatic events, such as the recent closing of Disney’s ESPN Zone without notice to workers whose livelihood depended on those jobs (which is the subject of pending litigation), and the less visible but pervasive daily realities created for workers when poverty-level wages are the norm — such as the fact that workers at Inner Harbor restaurants can’t afford to eat the food they cook, for which they are charged the retail price.  

The reporter remarks on the millions of dollars of public money that has been spent revitalizing the Inner Harbor, where business continues to boom, even as the workers that keep the Harbor running cannot make ends meet.  It is clear that the Inner Harbor, once hoped to represent part of a solution to poverty among Baltimore’s working poor, has become part of the problem.  United Workers therefore demands that the private developers who control and profit from Inner Harbor development become part of the solution.  Read more about United Workers’ Campaign for Fair Development here.