In early 2015 EHC partnered with Healthcare for the Homeless of Baltimore and Towner Management to explore the feasibility of creating 12 units of permanent supportive housing in the Upton Neighborhood of West Baltimore. EHC subsequently purchased six adjacent parcels in the 1200 block of Argyle Avenue from the City of Baltimore through the Vacants to Values Program. By the end of the year EHC had secured support for the project from The Upton Planning Committee, a neighborhood citizens group and the project officially got under way. Securing the funding for the project occupied most of 2016 but in late November the last commitment was received and groundbreaking is expected in February of 2017.
The target population for the project will be chronically homeless individuals or couples capable of sharing a one-bedroom apartment. The management agent, Towner, will select tenants based on criteria developed by EHC, HCH and Towner. Selection of tenants will not rely solely on traditional property management standards; standards will be established that reflect a commitment to the “housing first” approach, in which housing is offered to people experiencing homelessness without preconditions and in which rapid placement and stabilization in permanent housing are primary goals. Projects that use a housing first approach promote the acceptance of applicants regardless of their sobriety or use of substances, completion of treatment, or participation in services. Potential tenants will undergo a multi-stage screening process: the prospective tenant will be referred to HCH through Baltimore’s Coordinated Assessment. HCH will then evaluate the potential tenant and refer them to Towner and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City for application and Housing Choice Voucher screening.
HCH will determine if the client meets the HUD income eligibility and disability requirements. HCH will also determine whether or not the tenant is able to live independently and whether or not the client is prepared to abide by the terms of the lease. While all parties will respect and seek input from each other, in the case of disagreement over tenant selection, EHC, as owner of the property, will make the final determination.
Once selected, tenants will have access to case management though Healthcare for the Homeless. A variety of wrap-around services will be available to tenants. These services may include rehabilitation, vocational and employment assistance, health and dental services, income and benefits support, substance abuse treatment and linkages to additional services as needed and available.
It is the hope of EHC and our partners that this pilot project will be a model for future similar projects in Baltimore City and beyond.
Owner | Episcopal Housing Corporation
Architect | Marks Thomas Architects
Contractor | Southway Builders, Inc.
Case Management | Healthcare for the Homeless
Property Management | Towner Management Co., Inc.