Funds sought for E. Baltimore housing Partnership plans $13.3 million project


Seeking to duplicate the success of the "Nehemiah" housing development in Baltimore's Penn-North and Sandtown-Winchester neighborhoods, a non-profit partnership headed by the Enterprise Foundation and the Housing Assistance Corp. applied yesterday for $2.175 million in federal funds to build a $13.3 million low- and moderate-income housing development on the east side of town.

The federal funds would enable HAC/Enterprise Nehemiah Development Inc. -- a joint venture of Enterprise and HAC, working with the city housing department and the state Community Development Administration -- to build 150 new and rehabilitated residences for sale to low- and moderate-income residents in three East Baltimore neighborhoods -- Johnston Square, Oldtown and Oliver.

Nehemiah, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was named for the Old Testament figure who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.

Yesterday was the deadline for applications in the third and possibly final round of grant awards under the Nehemiah program, which will distribute more than $39 million to cities nationwide that are competing for the grants.

The local project would be one of the largest developments of its ZTC type in East Baltimore and would help link a number of residential developments, including Ashland Mews, Johnston Square Manor and the Johnston Square urban development action grant housing, said Gary Brooks, HAC's executive director.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was aware the Nehemiah program might disappear and pushed the non-profit groups to apply for funding build housing on the east side, said Mark Sissman, president of the Enterprise Social Investment Corp., a foundation subsidiary.

According to the application, HAC and Enterprise plan to build 62 two-story, three-bedroom row houses and rehabilitate 88 row houses on scattered sites in the three neighborhoods, mostly in Johnston Square.

The new and rehabilitated houses would be sold to low-income buyers for about $35,000, about $2,000 less than those in Sandtown-Winchester.

The work is planned for the 1100 block of Aisquith Street, the 1100 block of Harford Road, the 1200 block of East Biddle Street, the 1100 block of North Central Avenue and sections of Chase and Wilcox streets.

The city is contributing $6 million for the project, and the state's Community Development Administration is providing $5.2 million in financing. Construction would begin in late 1992 or early 1993.

Decisions on the grant applications will be made by late September. If Baltimore's project is funded, it will be the third Nehemiah grant for the city.

The earlier ones were the $4.2 million grant for Sandtown-Winchester and Penn-North and a grant of nearly $400,000 to help build 28 houses in Cherry Hill.

Enterprise is developing those earlier projects in a joint venture with Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, a coalition of 45 local churches working to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods.

The East Baltimore project marks the first time Enterprise has joined forces to build a Nehemiah project with HAC, which is working in 14 communities in the city.

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