Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake
this year is investing in a $8.5 million project to jumpstart home ownership in three Baltimore low-income neighborhoods.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation gave the nonprofit a $1 million grant over two years, the biggest grant the foundation has given Habitat, CEO Mike Posko says. The project will be completed in 2015.
Habitat bought 56 properties in Woodbourne-McCabe, Mount Winans and Washington Village-Pigtown. Of the properties, 53 will be renovated and three will be demolished for recreational parks in each of the neighborhoods.
Posko says most of the properties were vacant. Habitat bought them in auctions and from the city for a range of $3,000 to $18,000 per house. The average house is 1,500 square feet in size. The parks’ sizes will vary in size. Habitat has worked in these three neighborhoods before and may do so after this project is done.
On average, it takes eight months to complete the rehab of a single house. Because of the Weinberg grant, Habitat can finish the project in two years.
The $8.5 million figure covers construction only. It does not include volunteer time or family services that will be offered to future homeowners. It also does not include the purchase price of the properties.
Habitat is looking for other funding partners for the project, including private donors, corporations and other foundations. Among the donors that have already committed to the project are General Motors Corp., Orokawa Foundation Inc. and Parks and People Foundation, the latter two in Baltimore.
Posko says that part of the funding will come from the buyers’ mortgages. Habitat no-interest mortgages range from $125,000 to $150,000. “The price is determined by the family’s income. We give them a mortgage they can succeed with,” he says.
While much rehabbing is done by volunteers and the future homeowners, certain jobs require certified workers. “The project provides employment for the trade industry – plumbing, electric, heating/air conditioning installation, duct work, masonry, roofers,” says Posko.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is a Baltimore County-based $2 billion international foundation with annual grant-making of around $100 million. Amy Kleine, program director, says that addressing homelessness and homeownership for low-income residents of the city is a priority.
“The board approved the grant because the project will have a successful impact on three neighborhoods,” says Kleine. “We know that when Habitat rehabs homes, it has a ripple effect. We’re hoping to see that happen” in this project.
Kleine added that several former residents of homeless shelters that the Weinberg Foundation supports have gone on to become Habitat homeowners. “Homeownership is not feasible for this population without Habitat,” she says.
Sources: Mike Posko, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake; Amy Kleine, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash