Ground broken for town houses


Ground was broken yesterday for 33 town houses in Johnston Square, one of Baltimore's poorest communities, for sale to low- and moderate-income families.

The ground-breaking ceremony came four years after the Johnston Square Community Development Corp. started working with the Enterprise Construction Corp. on a plan to build the homes in the 1100 block of Somerset St. and the 1200 block of E. Chase St.

The $4.1 million project will include 22 rental town houses to be built nearby in the neighborhood, which lies just east of downtown and which includes the Maryland Penitentiary and the Baltimore City Detention Center.

The entire project is being financed with money from the state Community Development Administration and the city Community Development Finance Corp., and federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

While the town houses to be sold cost $73,000 each to build, government subsidies will allow them to be sold for $46,592 each, said Mary Ross, community coordinator for the development corporation.

Ms. Ross, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years, said: "We started working on this project four years ago when we were looking for something to do to get some more housing in the community. This site was selected because there were a lot of vacants. It was a long and tedious process because we were mixing for-sale and rental housing together."

The state will finance a home buyer's first mortgage of $39,900 and the city will offer a second mortgage of $6,042. The second mortgage will be forgiven if the homeowner lives in the house for 10 years, Ms. Grayson said.

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