BALTIMORE (AP) — Since 1950, Baltimore has dropped from America’s sixth most populous city to the country’s 30th largest. And there’s no end in sight to the population drain.

Baltimore is far from alone in grappling with issues of urban decay. But at a time when rival cities are gaining residents, Baltimore’s decades-long disappearing act is only continuing. It has led all U.S. cities in population loss for the last two years running.

Its 16,000 abandoned properties are symbols of this city’s enduring social divide. Housing researchers say some 20,000 other properties are unoccupied and pose a risk of becoming crumbling shells in the future.

Government officials are now focused on stabilizing and revitalizing neighborhoods that can grow. A major part of the solution is ramped-up demolition to increase odds of redevelopment.

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