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New Program to Buy Vacant Houses


Stephen Church is a 26-year-old police officer in Annapolis He hails from Baltimore, however, and wants to continue to live here. But how can a man afford a house in the beginning of his career?

Officer Church found a way. Recently he became the first applicant to be awarded a loan in Baltimore City's new $8 million vacant house loan program. His future home, a boarded-up, two-story rowhouse in the 1600 block East 29th Street, still bears the smoky scars of a firebombing. But if everything goes well, Officer Church hopes to move in before the end of the year.

Under the new program, the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corp. will make 30-year loans at 8 percent interest for purchasers wanting to acquire and rehabilitate a vacant city house. There are no income limits and the participants do not need to be first-time home buyers. But they do have to make a commitment to live in the Baltimore house they renovate for at least 10 years.

This clearly is not a program for everyone. But for people wanting to participate in neighborhood stabilization through rehabilitation it is a superb deal. It is made especially attractive by the packaging of acquisition and repair money into a single mortgage loan.

Because the number of vacant houses has been increasing at a rapid rate in Baltimore in recent years, we welcome this new program enthusiastically. At the same time we urge Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Housing Commissioner Robert W. Hearn to make sure that this program will not become mired in red tape and unexplainable delays that have characterized too many other city loan banks in the past.

Officer Church says he wants to move into his new home by Thanksgiving. We will tell our readers whether that happens or not.

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