A new opportunity to reduce homelessness in Baltimore
Jul 03, 2019 at 2:45 PM
We read with considerable interest your article about housing for the homeless (“City, Baltimore hospitals partner on plan to house, care for 200 homeless people,” July 2). In 2017, we introduced to the city a plan to create housing for the working poor homeless and we have been working through the various departments of the city on our program since that time. Our program is not for the chronically homeless, but specifically identifies young families (traditionally, a single parent with one or two children) and offers them the opportunity to own their own home. Our project is to create housing out of steel shipping containers that have been retrofitted into homes and which has been featured in several articles in your newspaper. We realized that unless something positive as this was accomplished and as soon as possible, a whole generation of young families would be lost to the streets of Baltimore. People living in the city need to know that this project is in the works.
We are currently working with a provider to create a wraparound service that initially would assist the family in financial planning and bringing up their credit score to a figure that would be acceptable within the mortgage industry. However, as our homes will be considerably less expensive than what the banks traditionally give mortgages for, we are working with external credit resources to provide this product. The unique aspect of the wraparound product is that the organization we are working with will provide social services for the first two years of the home ownership to ensure that the new occupants are aware of all of the services that are available and assist them in insuring that the loans are repaid.
We have already placed our "vacant to values” proposal to the city for 27 cleared lots in the Oliver community where we are now awaiting final approval, which was delayed due to the hacking issue the city encountered and same should be resolved now that the city is up and running again.
This plan will allow the working poor homeless family to own their own homes at prices that are reasonable and affordable and will represent a first step in the creation of homes for this population, perhaps the first in the nation. It will not end homelessness, but in that we hope to be able to create a total of 100 of these houses throughout the city, it will improve the standard of living for these families and help them build equity and revitalize communities.
We believe the combined housing being worked on by our charity and the hospitals covered in your article will go a long way toward making Baltimore a beacon of hope and even perhaps a model which can be duplicated to assist the homeless populations throughout the United States.
Christian H. Wilson, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of Heart's Place Services, Inc.