We began learning more about how the income of the working class often does not rise to the level of increased rentals and property values, and how inflation can erode a family’s living conditions. Through our backpack program we heard about the needs of these families and what homelessness did to their children’s health, emotional stability and educational development and how family stresses affected everyone. So decided upon creating permanent homes for these families. Offering a lasting place of shelter the children could get off the streets, out of abandoned buildings, stop the need for “couch surfing” and shared housing, and finally have the opportunity to know the meaning of HOME.
Our idea was to create housing that most employed but yet homeless families could afford to purchase, and called our new program “Hope Village”. Considering what homes could be built and maintained at the lowest costing we looked to the now popular container house model. We presented our idea to City Council President, Bernard (Jack) Young, in November of 2017. Impressed with the idea of eliminating part of the residential issues facing the homeless (displaced) in the city due to increasing rent cost and new construction cost that made housing beyond the reach of these individuals and most lower-middle class families he arranged for a meeting of City agencies. They listened to our proposal and it was well received. Subsequent meetings with Mayor Pugh, PNC Foundation, and the financial entities of the Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) and Baltimore Neighborhood Initiative (BNI) advanced our plans.
Working with Jay Orr, of ARQ Architects we designed a structure that would fit the foot print of City row houses and totally disguise the look of a container through strategic designs to meet with community approval.
Additional modifications can be made to these units that would be suitable for most neighborhoods in the city with minimal costs for alterations to follow the rectangular design of most of the residential housing now existing.
We have been careful and considerate in establishing relationships with the community associations in our choice of locations for these homes. Our commitment is to the communities who want our program. These are communities are looking for investment and development of their neighborhoods, are anxious not to drive away residents as development pushes rents and property values higher. They want to be able to keep good neighbors within the areas in which they have spent their lives, where they have family and friends, but have not had a program to assist these people while rents and property values climb. They want us to help them through “Hope Village” to provide this community stability while improving and revitalizing areas for other future development.
Phase I of our project which we hope to complete by late summer of 2021, will be a total of 4 homes, three of the single unit houses and one of a double-stacked house. The smaller ones can house a family of three and the larger for a bigger family or a Mother/Daughter type arrangement which can help keep families together and reduce monthly costs.