Healthy Neighborhoods

Thank you for the opportunity to share a little about the Healthy Neighborhoods program.

My name is Mike Cross-Barnet, and I serve as Manager of Neighborhood Programs for Strong City Baltimore. I am the organizer for Healthy Neighborhoods in Better Waverly, along with Peter Duvall of Community Development Services, a fiscally sponsored project of Strong City.

As you probably know, Strong City (formerly Greater Homewood) has a long history of supporting community leaders in Better Waverly. We worked with the community to bring Giant to the neighborhood and also to expand the Farmers Market to year-round. We were involved for many years with the Barclay school through our VISTA and Community School programs, and we still operate the nearby 29th Street Community Center.

For over 15 years, Greater Homewood/Strong City has partnered with Healthy Neighborhoods to strengthen North-Central Baltimore communities and help people stay in their homes. Healthy Neighborhoods encourages homeowner investment in stable but generally undervalued areas of Baltimore, i.e. “middle neighborhoods.”

Healthy Neighborhoods differs from a typical lender in a number of ways, including the fact that it is Baltimore-based and is a nonprofit dedicated to serving the community, not shareholders. Probably the biggest draw is its matching rehab grant: when obtaining a home mortgage or taking out a home improvement loan, Healthy Neighborhoods customers can receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10,000 for those earning less than 120% of Area Median Income. 

But the $10,000 grant is just one of Healthy Neighborhoods’ distinctive features. The program offers three kinds of loans: purchase/rehab for new buyers, home improvement loans for established homeowners (projects up to $30,000), and refinance/renovation loans for homeowners wanting to do more extensive projects. Other special aspects of Healthy Neighborhoods loans include: 

No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required for purchase/rehab loans 

With just 3% down, customers can borrow up to 110% of after-rehab appraised value for purchase/rehab or refinance/rehab and up to 105% for home improvement 

Loans up to $295,000 with no upper income restriction 

Free architect services to help plan improvements and review contractor proposals  

Can be combined with other homeowner incentives from Live Baltimore, Live Near Your Work, Maryland Historical Trust rehab tax credits, etc. 

Currently, Healthy Neighborhoods home improvement loans are available to any homeowner in Better Waverly, while purchase/rehab and refinance/rehab loans are available on these Target Blocks:

Another popular feature of Healthy Neighborhoods is its funding of block improvement and marketing projects that enhance the appeal of a neighborhood. Over the years, Healthy Neighborhoods and Strong City have made possible dozens of block projects in Better Waverly and other North-Central neighborhoods. These have included tree plantings, mosaic number signs, and house painting projects.

Mike Cross-Barnet

(Pronouns: He/Him/His)

Manager of Neighborhood Programs

Strong City Baltimore