City to pay off mortgage on house damaged as its crew worked nearby Top officials OK $36,500 expenditure

September 18, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's top officials voted yesterday to pay off the mortgage on an East Baltimore rowhouse that was damaged in June while a city wrecking crew was working two doors down.

The five-member Board of Estimates, which includes the mayor, the City Council president and the comptroller, approved spending $36,500 to pay off the mortgage on 213 N. Montford Ave., a brick rowhouse owned by Orlando T. Jenkins.

"It's the least they could do," said Everett Graves, 80, who has lived on the block for 25 years. "Mr. Jenkins and his family were forced to move out without their belongings. All of their furniture is still inside the house."

Jenkins, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, is living in another rowhouse in Baltimore, officials at the city Department of Housing and Community Development said.

"The family is living in the property that they are in the process of buying," said Tom Jaudon, chief of the city's Homeownership Institute. "We're paying off the mortgage on the Montford Avenue rowhouse so they can purchase the second property. We're just waiting for the state to approve the mortgage."

Jenkins' home was severely damaged June 26 when two houses in the middle of the block -- 207 and 209 N. Montford Ave. -- were razed.

As a result of the incident, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke ordered midblock demolitions halted. The city resumed such demolitions this month.

Jaudon said city officials decided to pay off Jenkins' mortgage after housing inspectors examined his rowhouse and determined that it could not be rehabilitated.

Zack Germroth, spokesman for the city housing department, said the city had not decided whether it would demolish the house.

Jenkins bought the three-story rowhouse for $37,000 in 1995, city records show.

Next door, at 211 N. Montford, the house of Yvonne Peaks also was damaged in June. Her house was leveled the next day.

Peaks, 45, a nursing assistant, is living in a subsidized rental unit. She has asked the city to pay off her mortgage. City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson said yesterday that her request was being analyzed.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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