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Creating affordable housing for seniors, the disabled can help transform Baltimore neighborhoods

May 2, 2016

Two years ago, when Baltimore announced it was partnering with private developers like Community Preservation and

J. Michael Pitchford, CPDC President & CEO

J. Michael Pitchford, CPDC President & CEO

Development Corp. to revitalize the city’s stock of public housing, many residents living in the poorest sections of Baltimore were rightfully skeptical that it would improve their lives.

Residents like Velveeta Jones and Timothy Prunty feared that the new Rental Assistance Demonstration program was a bad deal that would push them out of their homes and leave them behind.

Today, as we break ground to redevelop Hollins House in Baltimore, those residents have become highly engaged community members who are proud to live here. Amid a frenzy of revitalization in the city, Hollins House offers affordable rental units to seniors and people with disabilities in the historic neighborhood of Hollins Market. It is one of the first housing redevelopments to take place via the rental assistance program with the Housing Authority of Baltimore.

And because of the way we’re redeveloping this property, not only do longtime residents like Jones and Prunty no longer have to worry about being displaced, they now have a say in what “home” looks like.

In addition to Community Preservation and Development Corp.’s $10 million investment to renovate Hollins House, we are asking residents what services they need to be successful and lead healthier lives; and we’re helping connect them to resources and empower them with knowledge to make that happen. Given the positive reactions from residents, we believe our approach could serve as an example for Baltimore on how to revitalize housing in a way that builds community and supports residents’ needs.

We know we have to make it easier for those with limited incomes to find a home in a safe community. But we also know that community developers must focus on much more than just housing if we are to transform communities in meaningful and enduring ways.

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