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Daily Record investigation: About the series

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Melody Simmons covers development and real estate for The Daily Record. She has been a reporter in Baltimore for more than three decades, focusing on urban and regional issues including development, housing, education and poverty.

A staff writer for The Evening Sun and The Sun for 20 years, she was part of a team that investigated a $60 million no-bid city public housing repair program in 1995 that led to federal audits of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the city Department of Housing and Community Development and fraud charges for certain contractors hired by those agencies.

She has covered urban affairs for other local media outlets. At WYPR-FM, she was part of a news team that covered Baltimore neighborhoods and issues, including a 2006 award-winning series on the relocation of residents in Middle East by East Baltimore Development Inc.

She has written as a freelance journalist for People, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Urbanite, Baltimore Magazine and

Joan Jacobson, a freelance writer, has covered urban affairs in Baltimore for most of her 36-year journalism career. She has written extensively about Baltimore’s neighborhoods, including Middle East.

As a reporter for The Evening Sun and The Sun she wrote about the misuse of federal housing and poverty funds by city officials and local nonprofit groups.

During the Baltimore Renaissance of the 1980s, she chronicled how gentrification negatively impacted the poor and enriched housing speculators.

In 1992 she produced an investigative story detailing the loss of tens of millions in unpaid loans given to politically connected developers by City Hall.

Since leaving The Sun in 2002, Jacobson has written for Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, and

She has also authored several research studies for the Abell Foundation, including one about the dismantling of Baltimore’s public housing program.

Jacobson is co-author of “Wised Up,” a memoir of a former Baltimore crime boss turned FBI informant.

Contact our reporters at:

[email protected]

[email protected]

Other members of The Daily Record’s project team:

Design/Graphics: Todd Zimmerman

Multimedia: Jon Sham

Photography: Rich Dennison, Maximilian Franz

Editing: Wayne Countryman, Tom Linthicum