Goldseker and building a better Baltimore

The recent article regarding the Goldseker Foundation's decision to hire Matt Gallagher, Gov. Martin O'Malley's chief of staff, reminds me of the role Morris Goldseker and other real estate investors played in providing homeownership for many minorities in the inner-city after World War II ("O'Malley's staff chief to lead Goldseker Foundation," April 18).

Mr. Goldseker was one of the largest residential real estate investors active in Baltimore. He purchased typical Baltimore city row houses, made improvements and sold them to potential buyers under land installment contracts where the potential buyers began as tenants paying what amounted to a fair rent and, if they fulfilled the terms of their contracts, acquired title to the property, usually within 10 to 12 years. Interest rates were 6 percent.

Unfortunately, probably through misunderstanding of the opportunity Mr. Goldseker provided for homeownership, his offices in the 200 block of West Franklin Strett were ransacked during the 1968 riots.

On a much smaller scale, my father and uncle were active in this market. One example of their efforts are several small frame homes on Swartz Avenue, just north of Cedarcroft, West of York Road at the city line, where they purchased the houses, fixed them up and sold them under Land Installment Contracts to low-income families.

This is an excellent example of private investors filling a need for low-income housing in the 1940s, '50s and '60s without any government inefficiencies, "pork, or tax dollars. And now the profits from the Goldseker enterprise continue for the betterment of the Baltimore community through their foundation.

Benedict Frederick Jr., Pasadena

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