Federal housing officials have awarded a $392,000 grant to a non-profit housing group that plans to build 28 townhouses in South Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood.
The so-called Nehemiah Grant, awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will "give people who would never have a ownership option a chance to buy a house," said Mark Sissman, president of the Enterprise Social Investment Corp. Sissman said the houses will be available to families making annual salaries from $13,000 to $28,000.
Although city officials said today they had not heard officially of the grant's approval, Sissman said he learned the city would receive the grant from HUD officials earlier this week.
The grant goes to the non-profit Enterprise-Cherry Hill Nehemiah Inc. Joint Venture. The state's Community Development Administration will provide first mortgages, and the city will provide the land and the third mortgages.
BUILD -- Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development -- and the Enterprise Foundation, are partners in the nonprofit group. BUILD is a church-based group and the Enterprise Foundation was started by retired developer James Rouse as a way to promote low-income housing.
Although houses will cost $74,000 each to build, home buyers will have to make monthly payments on low-interest, first mortgages of only $39,900.
Like other federally funded homeownership programs, the home buyers will not be allowed to rent their homes to others, said Sissman. Cherry Hill lies roughly between the south end of the Hanover Street Bridge and Brooklyn.
The grant is the second Nehemiah project in Baltimore.
Construction for the first, in the Penn-North and Sandtown-Winchester communities in West Baltimore, began earlier this year with a $4.2 million grant.
The West Baltimore project, when completed, will have nearly 300 new homes for families with annual incomes ranging from $13,000 to $30,000.
The Nehemiah grant was named for the Old Testament figure who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem.
With dwindling federal money for low-income housing, the grant program is one of the few available from HUD to help stabilize poor urban communities.
Last spring, the Sandtown-Winchester area of Baltimore was among seven sites that HUD chose for Youth Opportunities Unlimited grants totaling nearly $19 million. The money will be used to provide intensive, comprehensive employment and training services to youth in high poverty areas, HUD officials said.
Each of the seven recipients of the grants will receive up to $2.7 million over a three-year period. Recipients will get $1 million each during the first two years of the grants and $700,000 during the final year.