Sandtown, Baltimore: Inside Freddie Gray's neighborhood

BALTIMORE -- In Sandtown, the violent, poverty-stricken Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray lived, members of the charitable group Center for Urban Families walked the streets this week trying to help people find work.

Despite monumental challenges, Joe Jones, the center's founder and CEO, is determined to turn this neighborhood around.

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Joe Jones, CEO of the Center for Urban Families CBS News

"Fifty percent of African American males between 20 and 30 are unemployed," said Jones. "You can't have that number of people out of the labor market and expect that a community is going to thrive."

Over the years there have been many efforts to save Sandtown. In the early 1990s former President Jimmy Carter and Presidential candidate Bill Clinton came here when developers and the city were pouring $130 million into urban renewal. The project largely failed because jobs did not materialize.

About 50 percent of Sandtown households earn less than $25,000 a year; only six percent of adults have college degrees; and only about half of eighth graders can read proficiently.

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CBS News

One of the biggest problems here is that with so few jobs available selling drugs on the street has become a rite of passage for many young men.

When we asked a group of Sandtown men how many of them had a criminal record they all said yes.

"If you keep living in Sandtown, you're gonna hustle," said one man, referring to selling drugs.

But every member of the group we spoke to is employed -- they've overcome their pasts. Now their mission is to convince others that they too can pull themselves up -- even in Sandtown.

  • Chip-Reid_bio_140x100_bw.jpg
    Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.