Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Stuck with crumbling old homes near gleaming new school, Baltimore housing tries something new: DIY

On one side of a Park Heights street, a $43 million plan to overhaul an elementary-middle school was well on its way. On the other side stood nine vacant houses, some little more than partially collapsed shells.

Baltimore housing officials had been trying to find a developer to fix up the two-story rowhouses for years, with no success. So, they decided to try something the city never had done. Officials secured $775,000 in public money and began to renovate the empty houses in the 4800 block of Pimlico Road themselves.

“Time was running out,” said Wendi Redfern-Curtis, who oversaw the project as a deputy housing commissioner. “We really didn’t want those vacants across from the school.”

Crews from Baltimore’s public housing agency finished work in the summer on the city-owned houses in Central Park Heights. Now, the city is offering them for sale at $110,000 each, a steep discount designed to entice buyers.

Valery, the developer, said he was drawn to working on the block in part because it offered a chance to sell people quality homes at a price they could afford. He described typical affordable housing deals involving complicated tax deals, in which millions of dollars in fees and profits are made by big firms. By directly subsidizing one house, Valery said, the city is investing in its residents.

“It’s an opportunity to make all these folks homeowners at half the price,” he said.

This week, Valery said he had an interested buyer — a parent with a child who would attend the school across the street. He said Healthy Neighborhoods, an organization that promotes home ownership and administers loans, is reviewing the buyer’s mortgage application but has had questions about the credit score.

The president of Healthy Neighborhoods did not respond to a request for comment.

Valery said its decision should be easy because the interested buyer is just the kind of person the organization purports to help.

Lemon, who moved to the block almost 25 years ago, is hopeful one will sell soon.

Having new neighbors, he said, “would be beautiful.”

iduncan@baltsun.com

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Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-ci-vacant-house-rehabs-20180906-story.html

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