The nonprofit organization, Builders of Hope Inc., was profiled in the Baltimore Sun last week in an article by Steve Kilar regarding its plan to rehabilitate 500 vacant homes near Johns Hopkins hospital. Baltimore currently has 16,000 vacant homes and residents in need.

(excerpt):

Last summer, Welsh [Nancy Welsh, Builders of Hope’s founder] and her employees started having meetings with Baltimore’s leaders and toured neighborhoods. They’re coming back this week for more meetings, with the city and Hopkins, and properties for rehabilitation should be selected by the end of June, she said.

Several municipal leaders and affordable-housing advocates credit their partnerships with Builders of Hope with revitalizing neighborhoods in their areas. City leaders who have worked with Builders of Hope say the group excels at navigating municipal programs and finding financial assistance for its rehabs.

Other highlights of the article include:

-Builders of Hope has started ambitious projects in several cities with housing needs and found mixed success. It faces lawsuits in New Orleans for delays in removing homes from the site of a planned hospital and for not paying back a loan, as well as contract disputes.

-In North Carolina, where Builders of Hope is headquartered, the organization has partnered with city government to refurbish and relocate houses in phases. The city supplies building oversight, as well as water and sewer updates. The first phase (involving 25 houses) went quickly, but the pace of the second phase has slowed down with potential buyers having trouble getting mortgages.

-Builders of Hope recently received a $100 million investment fund from an anonymous donor to be distributed over five years-up to $30 million will go to the Baltimore project. The plan is to lease the refurbished Baltimore homes until the neighborhood stabilizes and then sell them.

Kilar, Steve, The Baltimore Sun, May 6, 2012, http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-builders-hope-20120506,0,4197758.story?page=1&mview=desktop