HomeFree-USA Opens Pigtown Office, Hollins Market Office Under Construction

| November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, HomeFree-USA, a HUD-approved nonprofit homeownership and financial counseling organization, held a grand opening for its first Baltimore office at 788 Washington Blvd. in Pigtown. With the move, HomeFree-USA launched Move Up in Maryland, which is described as a program intended to reinvigorate West Baltimore by reclaiming neighborhoods that have been ravaged by vacant properties and the painful effects of the financial crisis. Move Up in Maryland’s mission is to enhance families financially, provide employment opportunities, and expand homeownership opportunities through the reuse of vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties.

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Pigtown Office

788 Washington Blvd. is owned by Marc Smith of Magnum Construction, who owns many other retail properties on Pigtown Main Street. The space was once a cleaners, jewelry store, and art gallery before most recently being marketed as a co-working space before HomeFree-USA leased it. HomeFree-USA Founder and President Marcia Griffin credited Smith as a reason for the organization’s move to Pigtown. She also said she fell in love with the corner and the well-maintained storefronts in the area.

HomeFree-USA is headquartered in Riverdale and has offices in Washington, DC, Atlanta, and South Florida. HomeFree-USA also purchased 1046 West Lombard St. in Hollins Market where it is renovating the property into a larger office where it can also host monthly home ownership events. Griffin raved about Pigtown and Hollins Market, calling both prime neighborhoods where she loves the vibe and the people.

Starting in West and Southwest Baltimore, Move Up in Maryland will acquire, rehabilitate, and sell up to 50 formerly vacant properties in 2016. To date, Move Up in Maryland has acquired and rehabbed 23 Baltimore properties and has sold them to low- and moderate-income (LMI) families within 30 days of rehab completion. Move Up in Maryland will also be working with Baltimore City’s Vacants to Values program with hopes to eventually rehabilitate entire blocks at a time.

Move Up Maryland will work in tandem with the HomeFree-USA homeownership preparation program, which has worked with more than 7,000 first-time homebuyers. The program provides homebuying guidance, credit help, mortgage advice, and foreclosure prevention options. HomeFree-USA boasts a 0% foreclosure rate.

“With increased homeownership and great looking neighborhoods, residents will be proud and the city will be positioned for further growth,” said Griffin in a press release. “When residents have a financial stake in their community, they take pride in their surroundings and contribute to their neighborhood’s future which is intertwined with their own futures. HomeFree-USA aims to break the cycle of boarded-up row houses and abandoned properties. We feel that Baltimore is on the rise.”

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Hollins Market Office

Move Up Maryland will work with many partners, including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Baltimore City, Susquehanna Bank, Bank of America, and Ocwen Financial Corporation, a leading financial services holding company, whose initial grant allowed the initiative to move forward.

“Homeownership gives people hope for a better future,” said Griffin. “With the help of organizations such as Ocwen, we are confident Move Up in Maryland will be the start of something great for the people of Baltimore.”

Providing jobs in construction, neighborhood revitalization, and real estate professions, HomeFree-USA also provides a mentoring and training program called The Road Home to help those with little to no work history gain experience and skills.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.