Baltimore has been granted more than $30 million in federal stimulus money for two projects to purchase, renovate and resell or rent abandoned or foreclosed homes in neighborhoods hit hardest by the recession.
The Healthy Neighborhoods Consortium, a nonprofit collaboration that includes Habitat for Humanity, the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center and the city housing department, was awarded $26 million for projects in seven neighborhoods, including Reservoir Hill, Coldstream Homestead Montebello and Belair-Edison. Home values significantly increased over the past decade in those areas, but many homeowners recently lost their homes to foreclosure.
"When homes are occupied, people take steps to protect their investment," said Mark Sissman, executive director of the consortium. "They clean the alleys; they're vigilant about crime. If a house sits vacant, none of that happens."
The grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will expedite the work of nonprofits already operating in these areas by providing cash to acquire and rehabilitate vacant homes quickly, said Sissman, adding that reselling the homes will add to the city's tax base. Funds were also earmarked for homesteading projects that will allow 30 to 40 families to purchase vacant homes at very low rates.
"These are real dollars at a size that will allow us to make a real dent in foreclosures," said Deputy Mayor Andrew B. Frank.
A separate $5 million grant will enable another group, Mi Casa Inc., to complete similar projects in the Johnston Square neighborhood.