Baltimore is plagued by a surplus of houses that are vacant and abandoned, the tragic result of deliberate policies of segregation and redlining, deindustrialization, suburbanization, and de-population, to name just a few. Enter ReBUILD Metro, which put a stake in the communities of Oliver, Greenmount West, and Johnston Square, turning vacant houses and lots into opportunity for low- and moderate-income residents to live in newly renovated and constructed high-quality, energy-efficient housing. This equitable approach to rebuilding neighborhoods addresses vast affordable housing needs and ensures that long-time residents are not displaced by the investment.
For more than a decade, ReBUILD Metro (formerly TRF Development Partners) has been providing market-stabilizing affordable housing to create opportunity and wealth for low-income residents in East Baltimore. The organization renovates vacant houses and builds new product for rent and for sale through its partnership with BUILD (Baltimore United in Leadership Development) and local churches, sustaining both local construction jobs and small contractor businesses. With its strong leadership team, the organization has succeeded in assembling highly intricate financing, overseeing complex redevelopment construction contracting, and managing rental leasing and assets.
In late 2016, the Abell Foundation entered into a $1.5 million construction bridge loan guarantee with TD Bank for the third phase of ReBUILD Metro’s single-family housing development, a 47-unit project addressing vacant houses primarily along Gay and Preston streets. The bridge loan was one tier of a $15.5 million capital stack assembled to complete the project. Other sources included the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Rental Housing Program and Lead Remediation Grant, the City of Baltimore CDBG, and HOME program grants, and state historic tax credits. Despite the challenges of renovating vacant deteriorated houses to historic standards, by early 2019, the construction of each of the units was completed and all the apartments were leased. The bridge loan was repaid in full and the Abell guarantee was released, with no claims. In other words, the loan guarantee—without requiring any grant dollars—enabled the completion and lease-up of the $15.5 million project at zero cost to the Foundation.
With the redevelopment of the 47 units, ReBUILD Metro’s cumulative $88 million of community development projects have created 200 occupied, single-family homes and 129 multi-family units, providing homes for 1,100 residents, and repurposing over 120 abandoned lots in Oliver, Greenmount West, and Johnston Square. Vacancy has dropped from 185 to fewer than 40 vacant units in Greenmount West and from 458 to 46 vacant units in Oliver. ReBUILD Metro’s sustained investment in East Baltimore target areas has achieved increased population, income diversity, and median sales prices, all with no displacement of existing residents.
Information published March 2021.