PARIS WILL ALLEVIATE ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS BY FOCUSING ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING, AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES
We know that the leading cause of trauma for young people in Baltimore City is extreme economic hardship. (FN34) We need a comprehensive approach to tackling economic hardship that does not only focus solely on jobs, but also on public transportation and housing access and affordability too.
- Expand access to public transportation so residents can access good paying jobs. Research shows that transportation is one of the top barriers to employment and economic mobility. (FN35) Access to school, healthcare, employment, and other amenities that are needed to live a healthy and complete life require a good transportation system. Baltimore lags behind its peer cities on the east coast in terms of providing good quality transportation. As Councilwoman, Paris will:
- Support complete streets, transit streets, and active transportation infrastructure like the Baltimore Greenway Network Trail. Southeast Baltimore needs safe, healthy, pedestrian-friendly streets where public transportation, walking, biking, or using a personal mobility device are all convenient options. Paris will partner with Baltimore City Department of Transportation and the Maryland Transit Administration to implement Baltimore’s Complete Streets legislation (FN36) and build crucial projects like the Baltimore Greenway Trail Network. (FN37)
- Champion a Bayview MARC station. Paris will partner with state and federal agencies to secure funding for a MARC station at Bayview Hospital. This would create the regional transportation hub that Southeast Baltimore badly needs, and open up access to jobs and destinations throughout Maryland via MARC service.
- Legislate the creation of a Work Group on Women’s Transportation Issues. Paris will bring a much-needed woman’s perspective to public transportation policymaking in a city where women make up 58% of ridership. (FN38) Not enough attention is paid to barriers that prevent women from accessing transportation – especially safety. Sexual harassment and violence against women and girls while using public transit frequently goes unaddressed by policymakers. (FN39) When elected, Paris will work with the Council’s Transportation Committee, and the Maryland Transit Administration, to make sure that women’s perspectives and needs are always at the forefront during the policymaking process.
- Improve the quality and supply of affordable housing in Baltimore because a brighter future begins at home. Housing is an essential human right, but too many people in Baltimore suffer from some kind of housing insecurity, whether that is a lack of adequate housing, or being a rent-burdened household, or living under the threat of rent court and eviction. More than half of Baltimore City homes are rentals; (FN40) 57% of Baltimore City renters are rent-burdened (which means that more than 30% of the household income goes towards rent); and 25% of City residents live under the threat of eviction. (FN41). Housing insecurity has a destabilizing effect on households and leads to negative health, education, and economic outcomes for children and adults. (FN42) Housing affordability is a challenge that disproportionately affects women: more than 40% of female-headed households with children in Baltimore are severely rent-burdened (which means that more than half of the household income goes towards rent). (FN43) As a result, 79% of the cases that go to rent court involve women tenant-defendants. (FN44) As Councilwoman, Paris will:
- Require landlords to provide a tenants’ bill of rights to Baltimore tenants. Many tenants do not know that they have protections under the law, such as the right to pay off late rent before being evicted or the right to complain without retaliation. We should remove barriers that renters face and reduce the number of people entering the eviction pipeline by making renters more aware of their legal rights.
- Advocate for more higher-density housing and commercial development. Paris knows that building more homes and mixed-use developments that bring jobs and amenities to Baltimore is a good thing, if done correctly and responsibly. A simple key to making sure everyone benefits from new development is to embrace the benefits of higher densities and eliminate unnecessary rules like parking requirements, which can increase the cost of rent by hundreds of dollars per unit. Currently, Baltimore is ranked the 8th most difficult place to build apartments in the U.S. (FN45).
- Add affordable housing by supporting increased funding of the City’s Affordable Housing Trust, advocating for community benefits agreements (CBAs) for major developments, and supporting community land trusts (CLTs) and permanent affordable housing.
- Economic Empowerment. Paris knows we need specific and sustained efforts to continue to connect residents to good paying jobs and lift more Baltimoreans out of poverty. Paris will support continuing efforts to raise wages and improve benefits for all workers, whether via collective bargaining or legislative action. Paris also knows that women and people of color continue to face an unjust wage gap, which perpetuates inequality. As Councilwoman, Paris will:
- Ban salary history inquiries by employers. Just like in most places in the United States, there is an extreme gender wage gap here in Baltimore City. Women in Baltimore make on average only 80% of the man’s dollar, and women make up the majority of minimum wage workers. (FN46) While there are many contributing factors to the gender wage gap that have deep historical roots in sexism and oppression, there is a simple legislative step we can take to decrease the gap: prohibiting employers from asking for an employee’s salary or wage history. Many employers ask how much a worker made in their previous job and then base their new pay off of the worker’s wage history, rather than off of the market value of their labor. This practice – which is currently completely legal – perpetuates the gender wage gap and helps to explain why women get caught in the cycle of wage discrimination because it can prevent women from ever earning equal pay for equal work.
- Introduce paid family leave for municipal employees. Legislation to provide 18 weeks of paid family leave for municipal employees – the same amount provided to employees of state government – is another effort Paris will take up on the Council. Paid leave key to providing infants with consistent care from parents during the crucial early weeks of life, and also prevents parents who leave work to care for children from suffering adverse career consequences like losing income and opportunities for advancement.
34 Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, Adverse Childhood Experiences Among Baltimore & Maryland’s Children
35 New York Times, Transportation Emerges as Crucial to Escaping Poverty
36 Baltimore City Department of Transportation, Complete Streets.
37 Rail-to-Trails Conservancy, Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition.
40 Baltimore Sun, Baltimore now has more renters than homeowners, analysis finds
41 Public Justice Center, Justice Diverted: How Renters are Processed in the Baltimore City Rent Court
42 American Journal of Public Health, US Housing Insecurity and the Health of Very Young Children
44 Public Justice Center, Justice Diverted: How Renters are Processed in the Baltimore City Rent Court
45 National Apartment Association, Barriers to Apartment Construction Index – Rankings
46 National Employment Law Project, The Case for a $15 Minimum Wage in Maryland