Pigtown and Union Square Now Eligible for Healthy Neighborhoods Renovation Grants and Rehab Loans

| January 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

Pigtown and Union Square were recently added as the two newest neighborhoods eligible for Healthy Neighborhoods home improvement loans and grants, as well as purchase/rehab loans. Healthy Neighborhoods is a Baltimore-based nonprofit focused on stabilizing blocks in Baltimore’s “middle neighborhoods” through home ownership and home improvements.

Healthy Neighborhoods offers homeowners $20,000 home improvement loans that can be matched by a $10,000 home improvement grant funded by Baltimore City. There are income restrictions for homeowners for the $10,000 matching grant and not all blocks in the Healthy Neighborhoods are eligible for the grant. Jenny Hope of Healthy Neighborhoods said the $20,000 loans are for 10 years and have payments around $200/month.

To qualify for the matching $10,000 grant, homeowners have to make less than 120% of the area median income. For example, a single person must make less than $79,700 and a family of four must make less than $113,900. The income limit is a sliding scale depending on the number of people in a household. The scale is capped at an 8-person household.

Hope said Healthy Neighborhoods is still finalizing which blocks in Pigtown and Union Square are available for home improvement loans, but it should be a large portion of the area. Healthy Neighborhoods is already accepting applications. She noted applications in Barre Circle would also be considered.

Healthy Neighborhoods is additionally offering its purchase/rehab loans for all of Pigtown and Union Square. Prospective homebuyers can borrow as much as 110% of the after-rehab appraised value of the home. The loans have 4% interest rates and do not include private mortgage insurance (PMI). These homeowners are also eligible for a matching $10,000 home improvement grant from Baltimore City if they meet the household income limits.

The buyers must contribute 3% to the down payment and part of the rehab loan must be used for exterior improvements to the home. Healthy Neighborhoods purchase/rehab loans are capped at $295,000. Hope said once home values in a neighborhood are rising consistently above $295,000, Healthy Neighborhoods assistance is not needed as much in the community. The median list price is currently $249,000 in Union Square and $140,000 in Pigtown.

Healthy Neighborhoods has been in business for 14 years. Hope touted the company’s success in neighborhoods like Charles Village, Lauraville, and Ednor Gardens. A total of 13 sections of Baltimore are currently eligible for Healthy Neighborhoods’ programs.

Healthy Neighborhoods also receives grants to undertake capital projects on blocks in the neighborhoods. A recent project was the installation of censored lights and mosaic addresses in a Belair-Edison alley.

Pigtown Main Street is helping to facilitate the Healthy Neighborhoods program. While Pigtown Main Street is an organization dedicated to helping small businesses and promoting the commercial corridor of Pigtown, it has expanded its focus on residential improvements in the community.

“We need to decrease vacancy and have an engaged community shopping and buying goods from our businesses in Pigtown,” said Pigtown Main Street Interim Executive Director Kim Lane. “More residents equal more dollars at our main street businesses.”

Pigtown Main Street will be promoting the Healthy Neighborhoods programs and will answer questions from their office and presence in the community. The organization will also look to coordinate projects for the Healthy Neighborhoods’ block grants.

Pigtown Main Street and Healthy Neighborhoods held an information session attended by more than 65 people. Lane said Pigtown Main Street has also been handing out flyers and that interest has been very high.

Healthy Neighborhoods lured its first new homeowner to the community yesterday as a Baltimore native settled on a new home on W. Ostend St. with a purchase/rehab loan.

Lane also touted the recent success of filling storefronts in Pigtown. She said vacant storefronts that have occupancy permits have been getting leased in less than 30 days. One large property, the former Hamilton Bank at 764 Washington Blvd., has been on the market for longer than 30 days, but has the potential to bring big tenant to the neighborhood. The building is 6,940 sq. ft. and has a 40-plus space surface parking lot. Lane feels this space has the potential to bring a lot of daytime employees to the community.

Pigtown Main Street has also been working to get additional storefronts on the market that are in need of investment or new ownership.

Healthy Neighborhoods is the second incentive recently added to Southwest Baltimore communities. Last year the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) launched its Live Near Your Work (LNYW) program offering eligible employees a UMB grant of $16,000, plus a matching grant of $2,500 from Baltimore City. Eligible neighborhoods are Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Hollins Market, Mount Clare, Pigtown/Washington Village, Poppleton, and Union Square.

This week, UMB announced 20 people become Southwest Baltimore homeowners in 2018 using LNYW.

“When you take into account those types of numbers, this exceeded all of my expectations of the program in Year 1,” said Emily Winkler, human resources benefits manager and LNYW program coordinator, in a press release.

She added it was more than the money that moved employees to action. “I feel that the community engagement aspect of the program really sealed the deal with our buyers. Each one I have talked to has raved about their neighbors and this wonderful opportunity.”

UMB is hosting two LNYW workshops in the first half of 2019.

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.