Some 35 formerly homeless residents will be moving into their new, permanent apartments in the next few days at Sojourner Place at Oliver, a new $22 million residential building near historic Green Mount Cemetery.
The nicely designed structure is a joint effort between Health Care for the Homeless and the Episcopal Housing Corp. The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation also assisted this effort financially.
“By definition, there is no such thing as a homeless tenant,” said Kevin Lindamood, director of Health Care for the Homeless.
Daniel McCarthy, of Episcopal Housing, said the new project is a direct outgrowth of another housing for the homeless experiment.
McCarthy said his experience at Sojourner Place at Argyle — near the historic Pennsylvania Avenue neighborhood in West Baltimore — convinced him that with regular care and support a smaller group of tenants remained successfully housed after years.
“The experience on Argyle Avenue showed us that small acorns lead to great oaks,” McCarthy said.
The new project is bound by Harford and Central avenues, Hoffman and Preston streets in the Oliver neighborhood.
McCarthy used loans and tax credits and funds from Baltimore City and the State of Maryland to construct the 70 units of apartment housing in this historic part of East Baltimore. Half the building will be used for homeless persons in transition.
The building includes one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments as well as laundry, fitness and computer rooms.
The United Way will be supplying linens and kitchen furnishings.
This building was financed with low-income housing tax credits, awarded to the project by the Maryland Department of Housing, and loans from the state, the city and Bank of America totaling about $4 million.
The Weinberg Foundation made a $2.3 million grant to the project and Enterprise Community Partners syndicated the tax credits.
Southway Builder’s Brandon Dunnigan led a tour of a one-bedroom apartment priced at $750 a month. The units include large baths and washers and dryers.
McCarthy said that of the 70 units, 35 will be reserved for people currently experiencing chronic homelessness. Tenants will be assigned by the city’s coordinated access system.
Plans are for residents to receive clinical care and supportive services. The building’s first floor is set up with rooms that can be used by neighborhood residents.
“There’ll be services to help tenants navigate the dramatic change of regaining housing, often after years, if not decades, without a home,” McCarthy said. “With support to navigate this critical period, we expect a high level of tenant retention.”
The other 35 units will be made available as affordable housing for individuals and families making at or below 50% of the area’s median income. For a family of two that is a maximum of $46,450.
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“This would directly address the severe shortage of affordable housing in Baltimore,” McCarthy said.
The $2.3 million grant from the Weinberg Foundation helped close the funding gap for this project, the developers said.
“Because of the Weinberg gift, we will not have a permanent loan on the building,” Lindamood said. “The money we saved will go into supportive services for the residents.”
Added McCarthy: “This innovative, self-sustaining financial model would be the first of its kind in Maryland and could serve as a model for other cities across the nation.”
One of the building’s flank runs along Central Avenue, the one-time home of a famous citizen. William Fuld was once the country’s largest manufacturer of Ouija boards.
Fuld’s former plant sits just across the street from Sojourner Place at Oliver.
Fuld prospered with his Ouija board but died at the old St. Joseph’s Hospital (once located nearby on Caroline Street) after he fell off his factory’s roof in 1927 as he was supervising the installation of a flagpole at the age of 56.