In an effort to promote homeownership in Baltimore and strengthen neighborhoods near its campuses, Johns Hopkins University and Medicine are expanding the boundaries of eligible territories included in their Live Near Your Work program to include swaths of central Baltimore between the Homewood and Bayview campuses.
The long-running city program, borne out of a partnership between the Baltimore Office of Homeownership and employers, aims to increase the number of people who own homes in the city.
Participants typically receive incentives ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, the combined total of contributions from their employer and the city, according to the Live Baltimore website. But grants for Johns Hopkins employees are often higher.
Their grant amounts range from $5,000 to $17,000, with the average of $10,000, according to university spokeswoman Jill Rosen, who added that the university and medical school have helped create the most homebuyers in the program. The amount depends on where a Hopkins employee chooses to buy.
With the expansion, such East Baltimore neighborhoods as Belair-Edison, Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello, Darley Park, Midway, Johnston Square, Mayfield and South Clifton Park join the program.
The expansion comes as Baltimore and its leadership seek to draw more residents back into the city. The latest census data shows that Baltimore’s population has fallen every year for the past four years, including a decline of 7,346 people, or 1.2% of city residents, last year alone.
Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels said the institutions are deeply committed to the program since it serves many causes and communities, including reversing population loss, supporting local schools and increasing employees’ personal wealth.
“There’s a virtuous circle of benefits that come from this change,” said Daniels, adding that Hopkins has participated in the program for at least a decade. “It simply reflects our belief that the best way to support the city and its employees is to help strengthen the neighborhoods around the Hopkins campuses.”
In an email, Rosen said the program already has benefited some 1,100 employees with more than $8.2 million in total grants. About 90 percent of participants have used the program to buy their first homes, she said in the email.
Maryland Sen. Cory McCray, a Democrat who represents much of the area included in the expansion, said he has consistently lobbied Johns Hopkins and other groups to invest in neglected neighborhoods to change Baltimore’s trajectory.
“In some neighborhoods, you can clearly see the vision, and in other neighborhoods ... they need an extra boost,” he said. “We have to engage our private partners and make sure we get in front of [the problem].”
McCray said the newly included neighborhoods offer affordable housing for middle-class families and individuals but perhaps do not receive an equitable share of resources and attention. He said Johns Hopkins’ dedication to expanding the program will assist homebuyers who otherwise would not be able to take on mortgages.
One such buyer, Clarrissa Cozart, echoed this sentiment. She and her husband moved their family into their first home in the Oliver neighborhood this June with the help of a $14,500 grant.
“When people talk about buying a home, they don’t understand how much it can actually be,” the clinical customer service coordinator said. “We were able to get a home literally with the help of Johns Hopkins.”
Cozart said her three kids have enjoyed decorating their new rooms and calling the space their own.