On a beautifully sunny December morning, Habitat Chesapeake staff, partners, neighbors, and friends gathered at the future site of three homes on Ward Street in Pigtown, Baltimore. With bouquets of vibrant poinsettias, Habitat Chesapeake officially broke ground with the help of community partners.
“This is a long time coming, this project. We’ve been [in Pigtown] for quite a while,” said Mike Posko, CEO of Habitat Chesapeake as he greeted the crowd at the groundbreaking site. Habitat Chesapeake has already made a deep footprint in Pigtown, and this project continues a tradition of service in Southwest Baltimore. Habitat Chesapeake broke ground on the 1200 block of Ward St in 2014, and finished the project in partnership with the Ravens. The homes about to be built at 1154, 1156, and 1158 Ward St will be constructed across the street from two other Habitat homes that are nearing completion.
This rich involvement in Pigtown is only possible with the outpouring of support and guidance from local organizations and foundational partners like Paul’s Place, led by William “Bill” McLennan.
“The light is shining down on us for many reasons today. The light is shining down on us – on this project, it’s shining on our homeowners, it’s shining on all the people who are making this become a reality. And for that we’re truly grateful,” says owner and founder of Paul’s Place, William “Bill” McLennan. “For thirty years I’ve been involved with Habitat, and it’s been a truly meaningful experience in my life, and one of the things I’m most proud of.” Paul’s Place, which offers job training, resume building, and daily meals to locals, hosted a reception following the groundbreaking event at Groundwork Kitchen. Groundwork hosts a state-of-the-art workforce training program and full-service restaurant located on Washington Blvd, Pigtown’s official main street.
He’s been a mentor, a friend, and a peer, and together we’ve been able to do a lot of great work. We’ve loved working with him over the years.
– Mike Posko, Habitat Chesapeake CEO
Above: On behalf of Paul’s Place and Groundwork Kitchen, Bill McLennan receives a special partnership award from Habitat Chesapeake.
Working with community partners like Paul’s Place, Habitat builds homes that enable first-time homebuyers to get a 0% interest, affordable mortgage right in their neighborhood. Statistics show that homeownership has many benefits, for both individuals and the community as a whole. “It’s not only great for the homeowners that are between 30-80% of the area income, but there are studies that show that crime rates go down, house values go up, children that grow up under home ownership have a better chance of graduating high school, and teenage pregnancy rates goes down. All those different markers go up for the neighborhood and for the individuals. That’s why we do the work,” said CEO Mike Posko.
Gregg Mitchell, Habitat Chesapeake’s Chief Advance Officer, noted thanks for partners and sponsors that make projects like the 1100 and 1200 blocks on Ward St possible. Habitat Chesapeake appreciates the ongoing support from the Abell Foundation, Chaney Enterprises, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Brown Advisory, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine & JHU’s ACCM, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Project CORE, Paul’s Place & Bill McLennan, the Episcopal Church & Episcopal Coalition, Pigtown Main Street, the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore Orioles, and Prime AE.
Jennifer Gray, the Director of Interfaith Outreach for Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, joined the celebration on behalf of the Governor’s office. “To all the people who have made this possible here today, Governor Hogan and the First Lady are big believers in the power of service, and there are few organizations that embody service like Habitat for Humanity.”
“The holidays can be a difficult time for some families who are struggling to put food on the table or keep a roof over their head,” said Gray, speaking to a crowd that included families and Habitat homebuyers. “It fills my heart with joy to think about the families who will soon call this beautiful area, and the homes they will place here, their home. Thank you, Habitat, for bringing three homes to families who will enjoy them for a very long time.”
I would like you all to know that Habitat for Humanity is a good program because it gives people the opportunity to purchase affordable homes, with education and training. I’m just thankful that Habitat made my dream become a reality.
– Nicole, Habitat homebuyer
Future Habitat homeowner Nicole also joined the celebration, speaking about her excitement to join the neighborhood. “I would like you all to know that Habitat for Humanity is a good program because it gives people the opportunity to purchase affordable homes, with education and training. I’m just thankful that Habitat made my dream become a reality.”
Habitat’s mission would not be possible without the hard work and determination of the partner families and individuals that become first-time homebuyers, like Nicole. By working together, dreams become possible.
“One of the constant themes I hear, over and over again, when I talk to homeowners, is about a dream – the fulfillment of a dream and a dream come true,” said Gregg Mitchell. “And it really does sum it up.”
Habitat Chesapeake would like to thank all of their sponsors and partners who have made projects like the groundbreaking on Ward Street possible. Thanks to you, affordable housing doesn’t just have to be a dream – we can make it a reality, in our own communities.
Thank you to the Pigtown neighborhood, Paul’s Place, and all our other contributors for choosing to partner with us, and thank you to all our sponsors and partners like you who make affordable homeownership in Maryland possible.
About Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake (www.habitatchesapeake.org) brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Since 1982, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has built more than 770 homes in 18 communities, providing a brighter future for 2,700 children and family members. Homeownership is proven to transform lives – improving health, increasing children’s chances of academic success and offering an opportunity to build wealth across generations. Likewise, homeownership enhances neighborhoods by bringing tangible investment, engaged, long-term residents, rising property values and a sense of community.
Below: Habitat homebuyer Nicole speaks at the event about her experience in the homeownership program; Representatives from the Governor’s office and Baltimore city join Habitat CEO and CAO and homebuyer Nicole to break ground on Ward St in Pigtown.