A collaborative between Johns Hopkins, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake and United Way of Central Maryland is rejuvenating a row home in the Milton-Montford community in East Baltimore into affordable housing. Several members of the Johns Hopkins Hospital executive leadership team made individual contributions totaling over $42,000 to sponsor what the Habitat for Humanity team likes to call the “Hopkins Hospital Habitat House.”
“It’s our responsibility to be involved in the community, beyond being a great hospital,” says Charles Reuland, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the hospital. “This project allows us to give back to our community in a different way.”
On Sept. 4, the Johns Hopkins Hospital executive team traded their business professional clothing for jeans, work boots and carpenters tool belts to support the Habitat for Humanity team on their first build day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to adhere to physical distancing protocols and heightened workplace safety, eight Johns Hopkins volunteers, including Reuland and Johns Hopkins Hospital President Redonda Miller, worked on a house at a time, showing that it is possible to serve others safely.
“Buying a Habitat for Humanity home is inclusion affordable,” says Gregg Mitchell, Habitat for Humanity’s chief advancement officer. “A potential homebuyer must earn 30% to 80% of the median income, and have a favorable credit history and stable employment for at least two years. They must also commit to completing 250–350 hours of “sweat equity” hours through homebuyer education, homebuilding and working in our ReStores. In return, they receive a beautiful newly built or fully renovated home with an affordable monthly mortgage.”
To ensure the potential homeowner is given the resources to succeed, Habitat for Humanity chips in a second mortgage when needed to guarantee that a buyer’s mortgage payment does not exceed 30% of his or her income. Volunteers are then recruited to provide the physical labor, and donors fund the gap between the cost and the sale proceeds.
“This kind of important work cannot be accomplished without partners like Johns Hopkins Medicine,” says Mike Posko, chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity. “By investing time and money in the neighborhood, home values ultimately go up, while at the same time building equity for first-time home buyers. We are so grateful to have them supporting us not just by volunteering time, but also contributing financially.”
Reuland has two hopes for this partnership: first, that Johns Hopkins rejuvenates a new house in East Baltimore every year, and second, that a Johns Hopkins Hospital employee would be able to call the Hopkins Hospital Habitat House a home.