Abell Salutes: St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center

May 2005 / Salutes / Community Development

For taking control of asset control, and for stabilizing neighborhoods by buying, renovating, and selling “foreclosed” houses.

Vincent Quayle, St. Ambrose Housing Center’s (SAHC) veteran community activist, calls the program, “The most exciting thing I’ve been involved with since we picketed the banks over red-lining in 1972!” The program, “Asset Control”; under it, SAHC purchases residential properties at a 50 percent discount in Northeast Baltimore by the U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) after foreclosure of federally-backed mortgages. SAHC buys the houses, renovates them, and sells them at the market. The program addresses the negative neighborhood impacts of large numbers of HUD foreclosures, all of which need repair or renovation, putting them back into the hands of homeowners, and not investors.

Summarizing results, Mr. Quayle reports, “Since October 8, 2004, we have purchased 34 houses from HUD. Construction was completed on 12 houses and they were sold immediately. The homes are beautiful, and we expect to meet our objective of 60 houses by October 8, 2005.

“A second objective is to renovate and sell houses to homeowners, repopulating and stabilizing neighborhoods. That is why all of the houses have been, and will be, sold to ‘homeowners’. A year ago houses in the Northeast neighborhoods where we are working were sold for $85,000 to $95,000. Today, these same houses are selling in a day or two, and for $115,000 to $125,000. We are playing a role in driving the market–stagnant in these neighborhoods for the past decade.

“We believe the strong market sales of our Asset Control houses increase the equity of existing homeowners and bolsters their confidence in their community.

“Our third objective is to set higher standards for renovation and to encourage other homeowners to invest. When budgets allow, we build new decks, wooden picket fencing, window shutters in the front. Outside, we provide new landscaping, brass lights and mailboxes.”

First year operating expense was provided by a $150,000 grant from The Abell Foundation; other support came from the Marion S. Knott Foundation ($35,000), Maryland Dept Housing and Community Development ($45,000), Baltimore Community Foundation ($10,000); Wm. Baker ($10,000) and Clayton Baker Trust ($25,000). Five lending institutions—Sun Trust, Susquehanna, K, Bradford, Madison Bohemian
banks, and Liberty Federal Savings and Loan, provide loans for acquisition and renovation of houses. Building on early success, Senator Barbara Mikulski recently secured a $300,000 federal grant to expand the
program to buy and renovate private, non-FHA foreclosures in the Asset Control area. State bond funds of $200,000 and Baltimore City HOME funds of $100,000 have also recently been contributed to expand
the program in Belair-Edison.

Quayle adds: “We expect to earn $18,000 on each of the first homes that have been sold for $144,000. If we can keep up this pace the project would become self-sufficient and earn enough money to support our other programs –in anticipation of deep, federal cuts. We hope to be able to buy and renovate 100 HUD owned and privately foreclosed houses a year by 2007 and expand beyond the Northeast neighborhoods.

“But the really exciting news is this: Since we have been working with the program in these neighborhoods, no FHA foreclosure has been lost out of ‘home ownership’!”

Abell Foundation Salutes: Vincent Quayle, the funders, Senator Mikulski, and all of the participating financial and philanthropic institutions, the city and state leadership for leadership and support of the Asset Control program–helping to stabilize city neighborhoods by preserving houses for home ownership by purchasing, renovating them, and then selling them to new owner-occupants—and, in the end, for taking control of Asset Control.