Tell us a bit about Healthy Neighborhoods, how long has the program been around and when did it come to Baltimore?
Healthy Neighborhoods has been operating in Baltimore since around 2000, although the original idea was established in Battle Creek, Michigan. The program started as a small initiative, and is now supporting 14 community based organizations working in over 40 Baltimore neighborhoods. We work in what we would describe as strong, but undervalued neighborhoods – places with solid assets where resident engagement and modest investment yield big results. We provide grants for neighborhood organizing and marketing and operate a 60 million loan fund for purchase and renovation of homes and home improvements.
What are “target blocks” and what communities in Greater Homewood is Healthy Neighborhoods working in?
We cover a lot of territory in Greater Homewood. Waverly, Better-Waverly, Ednor Gardens-Lakeside, Oakenshawe, Abell, Harwood, Old Goucher, Remington, Barclay, and Charles Village. We target blocks based upon a building from strength strategy. We work first on the blocks with the best home values and active residents to create those marketable “postcard blocks” and build out from there. A list of the target blocks can be found on our website www.healthyneighborhoods.org.
How does Healthy Neighborhoods work in collaboration with GHCC?
GHCC is an excellent partner for the delivery of Healthy Neighborhood resources. GHCC has generated millions of dollars of Healthy Neighborhoods loans and matching grants. Among their numerous neighborhood projects are painted ladies and mosaic number plaques in Harwood, and improvements to the playground at Margaret Brent Elementary School. Their marketing of neighborhoods and schools has really made a difference, too.
Why do you think it is important to support the Neighborhood Institute?
The Neighborhood Institute provides great information sharing and networking among community members looking for positive change. It brings in good speakers on big picture topics and also provides positive peer learning experiences.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer to someone looking to become a first time home owner?
Two pieces of advice: first, meet with a housing counselor to find out if you are ready to buy. Second, choose a home based on your needs and desires, not just based on how many incentives you can patch together.
How can we get more information, and who should someone reach out to if they are interested in taking advantage of they are interested in participating in the program?
Visit the Healthy Neighborhoods website at (http://www.healthyneighborhoods.org/). Also, Andre Stone from GHCC is a great resource if you are located in the Greater Homewood area.