Imagine a city of neighborhoods. A patchwork of vibrant, resilient neighborhoods that are unmistakably distinct, yet undeniably similar.
Imagine that in one of these neighborhoods, a child born today will live to be 83 years old. Now picture another neighborhood, one just a few streets away, where another child born today will live to be just 63 years old. Picture that neighborhood versus the first one. What causes this difference? What you have just imagined are the effects of inequity. You have just painted a picture of Baltimore. Unfortunately, this inequity costs the lives of 2400 Baltimoreans every year.
At this very moment, the average person in Baltimore City lives just 71 years—about as long as the average American did back in 1970.This puts Baltimore forty years behind the rest of the country. In some Baltimore neighborhoods, a child born today can expect to live just 63 years—about as long as the average American child lived back in 1940. That’s seventy years behind the rest of the country. Sixty-three years is equivalent to the life expectancy in Togo, in West Africa, and less than that in Bolivia, Pakistan, and Iraq. Sixty-three years is death before collecting social security. However, what is more eerie is that just five miles up the road, a child born in another Baltimore City neighborhood will live to be 83—equivalent to Japan, the country with the highest life expectancy in the world. And so it is, in the wealthiest country in the world, a city of neighborhoods with a 20 year gap in life expectancy—the gritty truth beneath the charm.
This 20-year life expectancy gap among Baltimore neighborhoods is due to many complex and interrelated factors. These factors are directly connected to having:
Healthy, affordable housing
All of these factors many people take for granted, not truly understanding their direct impact on one’s health. In Baltimore, it is abundantly clear that the neighborhood in which you live heavily determines whether you can access these basic needs — so PLACE MATTERS. Being able to take advantage of these opportunities, no matter where you live is critical to ensure that everyone has a fair chance at a happy and healthy life — therefore, Equity Matters.