These photos capture the grim reality of life in Baltimore's poorest neighbourhoods

Over the past several days, the streets of Baltimore have erupted into chaos. Riots were sparked by anger over the recent death of Freddie Grey, who suffered a fatal spine injury while in police custody, but the seeds of that anger were sown long ago.

As Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby told Fox News on Tuesday, the protests are about the “social economics of poor, urban America.”

Mosby described those protesting in the community as “showing decades old of anger, frustration for a system that’s failed them.”

AP photographer Patrick Semansky captured the poverty-stricken state of the Baltimore’s poorest neighbourhoods in a photo essay in 2013. It seems especially relevant today.

Baltimore has lost nearly a third of its population since its peak of about 950,000 residents in the 1950s. Here, two young men walk through a neighbourhood of vacant row houses.

More than 30,000 people in Baltimore experience homeless in a given year. Some choose shelters; other become squatters on abandoned properties. In the picture below, two homeless men eat ice cream cones across the street from a block of vacant row houses.

A homeless man displays a pin that holds his jaw together; he said he received it after being beaten and robbed while sleeping in the vacant row house seen behind him.

Nearly one in four people in Baltimore live under the poverty line.

Source: US Census

A group of boys walk past a partially collapsed row house in Baltimore. Today, an estimated 16,000 buildings in the city are vacant or abandoned.

Many properties have been left to the elements. Here, two row houses, one boarded up, the other occupied, are surrounded by vacant lots at dusk in Baltimore.

The US Census Bureau estimates that 20% of American children are impoverished.

Source: NCCP

The unemployment rate for Baltimore jumped from 6.9% in December 2012 to 8.2% in December 2014.

The number of jobs in largely low-paying industries (retail and food service) grew more than 60% in the region between 1980 and 2007, while jobs increased 36% in middle-wage fields and just under 10% in high-wage fields, according to a Brookings Institution study.

Read about the Brookings Institution study at The Baltimore Sun.

In 2012, one in four households in Baltimore received food stamps.

Read more at The Baltimore Sun

Nearly 85% of children enrolled in the Baltimore City Public School system qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

West Baltimore halved its number of homicides last year, to 21, from 42 in 2013.

Violence isn't the only story in Baltimore right now ...

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