- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2001

BALTIMORE (AP) City officials in Baltimore, Md. are aiming to build upon the successes of well-established and recently trendy neighborhoods to attract and keep residents.
Hundreds of rental apartments are being built downtown, and homes sell well in established communities such as Mount Washington and Roland Park, as well as Canton and Federal Hill, which have become more popular in recent years.
Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano said his panel is looking at ways to bring the same rebirth to communities with dropping populations and growing numbers of vacant homes.
"Certainly, we have seen mixed results in Baltimore," Mr. Graziano said. "Many neighborhoods are red hot and flourishing and thriving. Others are not. We want to see what we might be doing to smooth out the rough spots."
The Mayor's Council on City Living holds its first executive session today and will meet next week for the first time since Mayor Martin O'Malley announced its creation in July.
Subcommittee meetings so far have produced ideas such as sprucing up main traffic arteries and creating a fund to revitalize neglected properties.
The city is hoping to reverse a decade-long trend of urban flight and join other older cities, like New York and Chicago, that saw a population rebound in the 1990s. Baltimore saw its population plummet by 84,860 persons in the 1990s, according to 2000 census data. The drop was the most of 243 cities nationwide with populations above 100,000.
Council members also are looking at ways to focus city resources on areas that need help to turn the corner.
Last year's "Healthy Neighborhoods" initiative brought millions of dollars to homeowners in six communities: Belair-Edison, eastern Reservoir Hill, Garwyn Oaks, Midtown-Belvedere, Patterson Park and Southern Mondawmin.
The city also is modifying its employee homeownership program, which was suspended in December but is set to resume this month.
City employees will be eligible to receive up to $3,500 to buy homes in "Healthy Neighborhoods." But the money will not be available in areas where home sales are already strong.

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