(UPDATE) Thursday 6:47 p.m.—A report released Tuesday shows the city is not a popular place for Baltimore City Police officers to live, but more housing incentives could make it slightly more popular.
According to the report completed for the Abell Foundation, of the 3,459 Baltimore Police Department employees, only 27 percent live in Baltimore. The department by far has the lowest percentage of employees living in Baltimore out of the largest departments in the city. The next lowest is the Baltimore Fire Department with 36 percent of its employees living in the city.
The percentage of officers living in city limits is lower than that of New York City, Detroit and Chatanooga, TN, according to the report.
Maryland law forbids municipalities from requiring employees live in the jurisdictions that they work.
The report, Police Housing Incentives Case Studies, Findings and Conclusions, concludes that more incentives and better communication with officers about those incentives could lead to more employees choosing to live in the city.
A "one stop shopping" approach to let officers know about all opportunities for city living and distributing that information through multiple platforms could be key in increasing the number of police employees in the city, according to the report.
It’s also suggested these housing opportunities be clustered in “middle neighborhoods” and “clustered housing” or employer subsidized housing.
The report also acknowledges that it may be hard to lure police to live in these areas because they fear they're putting themselves and their families in danger by living in the city, especially high crime areas, where they work.
According to the report, the city is already offering 40 housing incentives, most of them available to police, to attract city employees to live in the city.
Tania Baker, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Housing, said the city us being proactive in trying to let officers know about the incentives being offered to them to buy housing in Baltimore.
She said in the last fiscal year alone the Baltimore Employees Homeownership Program has helped eight officers with $3,000 in incentives.
Baker also said Baltimore Housing's homeownership office has made presentations to police recruits about buying in the city, as well as informing officers about a $5,000 incentive for city employees to participate in the Vacants to Value program, and reaching out to officers through the labor commissioner's offce.
"The good thing is that they can combine incentives which is a really attractive thing," Baker said.