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Low income is a major contributor to higher incidence and severity of illness and earlier deaths. Many low-income people have difficulty paying for health care doctor and medications when they struggle to pay for other essentials, such as housing, food and utilities.

Families with lower incomes tend to live in substandard housing, have less access to healthy food options, and have greater risk factors for heart disease than those with higher income levels.

In a city such as Baltimore, this situation is magnified. As the chart below illustrates, Baltimore City has lower income levels and more poverty when compared with both the state of Maryland and the national averages.1-3 The median household income in Baltimore is $40,087, which is just 57% of the median income for the state ($70,482) as a whole. Furthermore, the city’s poverty level (19.2%) is more than twice as high as the state’s (8.2%).

2008 Income & Poverty Comparison: 

Baltimore, Maryland, United States



United States

Household Income




Per Capita Income




Percent of Population Living below Poverty Level




Fragmented efforts to reduce chronic disease at the community level have not been effective. Education, prevention and medical treatment services must work together in order to have long-lasting success. If health outcomes are to improve for low-income populations, health promotion programs need to work hand in hand with medical providers in these communities. These collaborations can come together in a number of ways:

  • Provide both prevention and treatment services at the same site.
  • Develop contracts or other agreements between agencies that provide prevention and treatment to the same neighborhood.
  • Apply for grants from local and national funders that support health-related programs.

Pooling resources and coordinating efforts among prevention and treatment services can produce creative solutions to health disparities between residents with higher incomes and those with lower incomes.

Income-related Resources

U.S. Census Bureau

Social Security Administration

City of Baltimore / Mayor’s Office of Human Services

City of Baltimore / Office of Employment Development

U.S. Department of Labor


1National Poverty Center, Univ. of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.; accessed Dec. 21, 2010.

2US Census Bureau. September, 2010. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009.

3US Census Bureau, State & County Quick Facts,; accessed Dec. 21, 2010.

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