This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Activist Scholarship.
Metropolitan planning in a vacuum: Lessons on regional equity planning from Baltimore’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, by Nicholas Finio, Willow Lung-Amam, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Casey Dawkins & Elijah Knaap
The main policy initiative of the Obama administration’s first-term urban policy agenda was the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which issued Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants (SCRPGs) to regions across the country. As participant activist scholars in the SCRPG planning process in Baltimore, Maryland, we present our analysis of 4 aspects of regional equity planning: community engagement, regional collaboration, regional housing policy, and the use of opportunity and equity-related data. We find that the process enabled adoption of a unique outreach strategy, engaged regional stakeholders in equity-focused conversations, and enabled comprehensive analysis of equity data in a plan focused on improving regional equity. However, despite some progress on regional housing issues, plan implementation has largely not occurred due to a lack of commitment to and coordination around implementation. The Baltimore experience suggests that in the absence of such commitments at the regional level or further federal requirements and funding for implementation, large federal grants have only limited success in pushing regional equity planning forward.