CHRWG

In the past 10 years, over 700 families from the Middle East neighborhood have been displaced from their homes, their social networks, and their sense of community and identity.  This was done in order to create a biotech park for Johns Hopkins Medical and its researchers.

The Community Housing and Relocation Work Group (CHRWG) was founded by East Baltimore & Middle East resident Donald Gresham in 2010.  CHRWG emerged in the aftermath of the disbandment of SMEAC (Save Middle East Action Coalition).  CHRWG is carrying on the existing struggle that activists within SMEAC had been waging for years and continues the legacy of fighting for a resident-led, resident-driven redevelopment process.



In order to address this mass displacement and injustice, CHRWG began participating in activities and rallies to bring attention to this ongoing situation.  Many of our actions have been covered in local media such as The Daily Record, the Baltimore Brew, and The Baltimore Sun.  But we also engaged in intensive learning about the various laws, policies, and persons involved in this massive $1.8 billion project.

What we have come to know is that EBDI is a proxy organization for Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the city of Baltimore.  In the Minority Inclusion Agreement signed in April 2002, EBDI and its founders promised 8,000 new jobs and the establishment of a community reinvestment fund.  As of today, both of these promises have been broken and thousands of lives have been changed for the worse.  

One such example is the death and legacy of Ms. Lucille Gorham.  EBDI displaced Ms. Gorham from her longtime home and placed in a house that was not fit for her needs.  EBDI promised to repair her home, but never fulfilled their promise.  She lived in miserable conditions.  As reporter Melody Simmons wrote:

"Despite a home inspection paid for by EBDI on Nov. 9, 2005, the stove stopped working, followed by the microwave, the washing machine and the hot water heater. The house was infested with rodents. Rotting floor boards gave way to holes in two places on the first floor, and the enclosed front porch ceiling gushed with water whenever it rained."

To address these types of injustices, we drafted our own community benefits agreement (CBA) that would expand the scope of the redevelopment activity so that there would be not only a focus on buildings but on people.  We argue that the current master developer Forest City New East Baltimore Partnership are not residents of East Baltimore, therefore they are unable to tell us how our community should be rebuilt.  Our CBA contains provisions that we feel will make us whole.

If you would like to be involved and join us as activists against EBDI, Hopkins, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the city of Baltimore, please email us at chrwg@yahoo.com.  We look forward to the future signing of our coalition's CBA, the real inclusion of residents in redevelopment, and halting any new displacement that EBDI may be currently planning.

For more historical perspective on SMEAC and Baltimore urban renewal, please visit this site.

CHRWG officers include:

President Donald Gresham
Vice President Reginald Fitzgerald
Secretary Jillian Marks
Minister of Information Lawrence Brown, PhD 
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