The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has awarded Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake a $1 million grant to rehab more than 50 dilapidated row houses in three struggling neighborhoods of Baltimore City, including Woodbourne McCabe, where 21 homes on McCabe Avenue are already being rehabbed or rebuilt.
“I’m truly excited that additional funding has been poured into it,” said Monica Gaines, president of the Woodbourne-McCabe Community Association, who has been pushing city officials in recent years to rehab housing in the 600-800 blocks of McCabe Avenue, just east of York Road. “It’s long overdue and we could definitely use it. Just putting a priority on the project is exciting enough. We have a lot of dreams we would like to fulfill. Ideas are wonderful, but I’m thinking, ‘Where’s the money going to come from?’ Now we know.”
In addition to the Weinberg funding, General Motors is contributing $75,000 toward the McCabe Avenue project, and other investors and donors are being lined up, said Randi Hogan, director of development for Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. She said the Johns Hopkins University lacrosse team, staff members from the Baltimore Ravens and staff members of M&T Bank have been helping to cleanup the houses on McCabe, many of which are little more than gutted shells.
Habitat, a nonprofit rehabber of low-income housing, owns the 21 houses on McCabe Avenue, as well as 21 houses in Washington Village/Pigtown and 11 houses in Mount Winans. Each project will include a community park, and each park will be named for the Weinbergs, Hogan said. She said that the late Harry Weinberg grew up poor and his foundation is helping fund a project for people who need financial home buying assistance.
The park on McCabe will be built on what are now three empty lots.
The grant is the largest that Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has ever received, officials said.
“Our projects often focus on the close-knit, high density rowhouse communities for which Baltimore is famous. The McCabe community is a natural fit for our revitalization model,” said Mike Posko, Habitat for Humanity of the Cheapeake’s chief executive officer.
The McCabe Avenue project is expected to cost $3.4 million for construction, the Mount Winans project $1.6 million and the Washington Village/Pigtown project $2.8 million, she said.
The Weinberg foundation money would be split among the three projects, Hogan said. A breakdown of how the money would be spent was not immediately available.
The city is a major supporter of the McCabe project, which is part of the city’s Vacants to Value program. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was on hand in May 2011, when several of the houses were razed. Rawlings-Blake returned in November 2012 for an official groundbreaking ceremony for the project.
Habitat for Humanity purchased the houses on McCabe from the city for $5,000 to $15,000 each. The houses will be sold to people who meet income eligibility requirements — those who have jobs but earn 25 to 60 percent of median area incomes. Those who qualify will receive no-interest mortgages, but must contribute 200 hours of “sweat equity,” and must take 50 hours of financial literacy training through Habitat for Humanity.
The city and its “community partners” — including the Woodbourne/McCabe Community Association, Neighborhood Housing Services and Habitat for Humanity for the Chesapeake — announced in 2011 that they would rehab 23 vacant properties over the next two years using federal economic stimulus funds, and sell seven other vacant houses through tax sale foreclosures as part of an overall plan to purchase, demolish and redevelop 34 such properties in northeast Baltimore — a fraction of the 600 vacant buildings citywide, officials said.