Hoping to improve the neighborhoods surrounding Homewood campus, the University commissioned the Homewood Community Partners Initiative (HCPI) in 2012. The plan seeks to reconcile the University’s interests with those of the local community. Through HCPI, Hopkins has committed $10 million over the span of five years to the Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP), a group of 91 organizations dedicated to helping the 10 neighborhoods located just south of campus.
The Editorial Board commends the University’s effort to make a difference in our community. The University is often criticized for a lack of involvement in Baltimore. Critics argue that Hopkins has a responsibility to the city because of the University’s resources and position as the largest employer in Maryland. However, we encourage them to recognize the University’s willingness to work with the community.
We also commend Hopkins for being frank and honest about its own interests in improving local neighborhoods. Along with defining goals to improve the Baltimore community, HCPI also outlines the University’s own goal to recruit and retain students. The initiative contends that the University’s investments can change the perception that Baltimore is an unsafe or impoverished city. Although this goal is self-serving, the University does not hide its mission in this plan, and that transparency is worth acknowledging.
Because Hopkins offers its own students a world-class education, it is crucial that Hopkins also improves education in Baltimore. According to The Baltimore Sun, the city’s schools face a $130 million budget gap. As a result, public schools throughout the city are threatened by severe cuts to vital resources.
$3.2 million of the $7.6 million Hopkins has spent so far have gone toward improving nearby schools. The Editorial Board strongly supports this investment in local education.
While the University has worked to make sure its goals align with the needs of the local community, it is important to consider the plan’s potential negative ramifications. Some community members in Remington have raised concerns about gentrification raising property values and thus displacing poorer residents. Hopkins must recognize the pros and cons of such changes when moving forward. The University’s initiative also reflects a greater trend in our city with greater development in neighborhoods like Station North and Mount Vernon.
The Editorial Board encourages students to learn more about HCPI and continue to track and scrutinize the University’s activities in Baltimore. However, Hopkins has also had some positive impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, and these efforts should be recognized.
We also encourage the University to ensure that its interests and those of local communities truly align. Transparency in admitting the University’s own self interests is admirable, but only if our school’s interests actually serve the interests of the surrounding neighborhoods. As a model institution, it is important that Hopkins consider its fundamental role in Baltimore, the city we call home.