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The Story of Ms. J.

St. Ambrose Rental Services Client Story     

Ms. J. may be 22 years old, but her life experiences quickly gave her the tools necessary to survive life on the streets as a young mother in Baltimore. When Ms. J. graduated from high school, her newborn son Luke was there in the audience to support her. Following graduation, Ms. J. had been kicked out of the only home she has ever known due to her mother’s struggles with addiction.

Ms. J. only had one option: to move in with her boyfriend, the father of her child. This would allow her to begin schooling and obtain her Medical Assistance certification. Unfortunately, due to a volatile home situation, Ms. J. had to withdraw from school and she and Luke had to flee to a domestic violence shelter. As a single mother living on the streets with a baby she wondered, “Why didn’t I just wait to have a child? But I didn’t.” Ms. J. knew it was time to reach out to community resources for help. 

Ms. J.’s Case Manager from Maryland Health Care Connection referred her to St. Ambrose’s Rental Services Program and Leah Mason-Grant, Senior Manager of Rental Services. “Leah is always so kind and helpful to Luke and me. She treats us exactly like we are all a part of one family.”

Ms. J. was then connected with Darrell, St. Ambrose Case Manager, whom she found to be extremely helpful on her journey. “Darrell helped me find the job I have now. I was only babysitting when he helped me find an on-call, floating IEP (Individualized Education Program) position in the Baltimore city schools. This allows me to help children in the school system that require extra assistance, guidance and are special needs.” After one year, Ms. J. will be eligible for a full-time position at a permanent school location.

Ms. J. and Luke, almost 4 years old, now live in a St. Ambrose rental property. They have a two-bedroom townhouse to call their own and they love their new life. “The home was so big and beautiful! I never had anything like that before. It means everything to me that I have a nice home to raise my son in.”

What’s next for Ms. J.? Ms. J. would appreciate the opportunity to go back to college. Her sister is a driving force for this because as a Phlebotomist and Mortuary Science student, her sister has expressed an interest in opening a family mortuary business with Ms. J., but she has to get a degree first.

Ms. J.’s plan is to get a more permanent job, get accepted to college and start her son in school. “Thank you Darrell, Leah and St. Ambrose for everything you have done for us!”

Featured

St. Ambrose is now a HUBS site! (Housing Upgrades Benefiting Seniors)

Housing Upgrades Benefiting Seniors (HUBS) is a program that assists older adults (over 65) in Baltimore city. This program allows seniors to continue to live in their homes and neighborhoods as they age by helping them with home repairs and modifications. Older Adults like Ms. G.

Ms. G. has been a lifelong member of the Baltimore community. Born and raised in the city, Ms. G. knew she wanted to devote her life to serving others. She started working at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore in 1965 registering patients at their time of need and loved every minute of it. Ms. G. moved into her home in 1986 with her husband, son and daughter. She came to know St. Ambrose through the pastor at her church, Garden of Prayer Christian Church. The pastor went above and beyond to connect his parishioners with St. Ambrose and the services that are available. Additionally, the church was an Adopt-A-Family participant and contributed yearly to this fund serving families who just need a little extra help.

Ms. G. was forced to retire after 33 years of service to St. Agnes Hospital due to a debilitating car accident resulting in four major surgeries over a 12-month period. The accident left her and her husband permanently and significantly disabled. Due to several years of medical issues following the death of her husband, Ms. G., like many clients, was left tackling the challenges of senior homeownership alone.

She came to St. Ambrose when faced with a homeownership crisis. Understandably, the routine maintenance of the home fell through the cracks which left her with a severe roof leak. Since she had no homeowners insurance, she was financially unable to make the repairs to her roof.

Over time, the leak became a gaping hole in the ceiling that had debris, snow and rain water rushing into her upstairs bedroom. She has maintained the leak with over 20 receptacles catching the rain water/snow/debris but it has become too much to handle. Although she has a son nearby and a friend to check on her, Ms. G. knew this was too big a problem for them to handle on their own. Ms. G. turned to St. Ambrose and the HUBS Program for help. Gail MacInnes, HUBS Case Manager, met with Ms. G. to devise a plan of action to make the repairs to her roof that she desperately needed. With the assistance of grant funding, St. Ambrose was able to facilitate the repairs which will allow her to utilize the space in her home while giving her the safety and security that she needs at this time in her life.

“I have lived in this home forever. I have put roots here. This home is what I have created and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Thank you, St. Ambrose for giving me the ability to stay in my home. St. Ambrose has truly been a blessing in my life. I never knew how much fixing a roof could cost and I couldn’t have afforded it on my own, especially as a widow. I know there are many other seniors who could benefit from the services provided by the HUBS Program and St. Ambrose. They need to know they are not alone.”

In this way, the HUBS program assists seniors in remaining safe and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.

Welcome to the St. Ambrose Family

The St. Ambrose family is always growing. And every member, from clients to staff to followers like you, is important. We wanted to take this chance to introduce a few of the new faces around St. Ambrose and say a little about the work they are doing.

Anita ASAM_0680lexander, Homesharing 

Anita joined the Homesharing team just a few weeks ago. She retired from her position as an Education liaison with the Salvation Army Booth House Shelter in July 2017, but decided to continue pursuing her passion of working in human services. She is dedicated to working with those experiencing homelessness and is eager to elevate homesharing as a viable option for those facing housing insecurity. Anita has been married for 40 years, and has 3 wonderful children plus 6 beautiful grandchildren.

 

20180312_105253_1532015456015Deborah Riddick, Rental

Before coming to St. Ambrose, Deborah worked for the State Department of Human Resources as a Personnel Budget Officer. In her new position working with our Rental Services Department, she will be helping St. Ambrose convert our database to a new and improved program that will help keep all our information on our rental homes organized and easily accessible. In her position, she has been able to get a more comprehensive view of all that St. Ambrose does, and enjoys learning about the impact the organization has on the community with its variety of programs.

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Maureen Hartshorn, Legal Services

Maureen is about to begin her third year as a Law Student at the University of Maryland. In her studies she has focused on Property and Environmental issues, and is looking forward to learning more about the cases St. Ambrose takes on. In particular, she is interested in the foreclosure prevention and mediation process. She has been working with us full-time during the summer and will stay on to aid our department part-time after her classes begin. Before joining our team, Maureen worked in journalism. As an editor, she was inspired by reading the stories of people making a positive impact on the city and decided she wanted to be part of the action. She also is a big fan of the Ravens!

 

Tim Darby, Esq., Legal Services

One of the newest additions to the St. Ambrose team, Tim is a graduate of Cornell Law School. He earned his undergraduate degree at American University.  Before coming to St. Ambrose, Tim began his career working as a Law Clerk for Judge Paul Goetzke. Housing issues hold a personal importance to him, so he is excited to be working for an organization that takes a focus on such work. In his spare time, Tim likes to fish, play guitar, and play with his cats.

 

For the First-Time Homebuyers

Approximately two-thirds of adults describe the homebuying process as complicated- and it is. There are a lot of details and people involved.  Knowing where to start and what to expect can be difficult. So we wanted to share some tips on what to expect when looking to buy a home, and how to prepare.

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Before you start looking for your dream home, take a look at your credit score. Our housing counselors recommend your credit is at least 640 before you apply for a loan. It can take several months or more to build up your credit, depending on how far you need to raise it. This should be factored into your homebuying timeline.

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Building your credit is important because it can save you a lot of money down the road. A good credit score can help you get a lower interest rate on your loan. Even just a small percent reduction on the interest rate can add up to big savings.

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Being patient is critical during the homebuying process. At times you can feel rushed to find your home, but taking your time can help you make sure you find a home that has everything you need and is within your budget.

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Again be patient! Don’t take the first offer that comes to you. Not all lenders are the same. Find the right lender who will help you get the best package possible. And keep in mind, if you get a pre-approval, that does not necessarily mean that is what you can afford. Know your budget before you agree to a loan!

The best thing you can do to prepare to buy a home is to see a homeownership counselor. They will help you look at your budget, figure out what you can afford and help you apply for your mortgage. Our Director of Housing Counseling explains, “It’s so helpful to have a third party person who doesn’t benefit from any of the transactions, and can act as an advocate for you.” She recommends housing counseling to all homebuyers to help make sure you find a home you can afford to stay in for as long as you wish.

 

St. Ambrose 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration

For 50 years St. Ambrose has been a grassroots advocate for the people of Baltimore working to find and keep a home. On Saturday, April 28th we celebrated this long-standing commitment with a special gala. Joined by hundreds of partners, supporters and friends we recognized the many achievements made to preserve affordable housing in our city.

With Jayne Miller as our Mistress of Ceremonies and special remarks from Secretary Kenneth Holt and Harry Spikes, we had the opportunity to look at the future of housing for Baltimore, as well as share in some of the highlights of St. Ambrose’s history. This all came together in the premiere our 50th anniversary celebration video, which you can find here.

Thank you to everyone who was part of this celebration. Through our entire 50 year journey, we have been aided by so many people and organizations. We would not have been able to serve the Baltimore community for so many years if it were not for people like you who have been a part of our mission. Together we will continue to make Baltimore home.

Want to catch more highlights from the gala? Click here to see the video of the event. Click here to see more photos.

 

 

Wells Fargo supports rental housing in communities of opportunity

 

Through their Priority Markets Program, the Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded $80,000 to St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center for the preservation of affordable rental apartments in the Hampden community. The award provides the final funding needed for St. Ambrose to begin a comprehensive renovation on their Union Avenue Apartments.  This garden style apartment complex is home to 54 families.

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Since the initial renovation in 1996, normal maintenance has occurred as residents moved out.  Heating and hot water systems were replaced complex wide within the last 5 years.  However, the turnover rate has been historically very low and the property needs a substantial renovation to the interior and exterior to assure that it meets the competitive standards of today’s market and the neighborhood. The planned renovation will upgrade the property to include central air conditioning, enhancing the exterior of the property by removing unsightly window units and replacing windows.  The agency is holding units vacant to enable an in-place rehab.  Residents from an entire building will relocate to renovated vacant units allowing for the total renovation of one building at a time.

With a severe deficit in the number of affordable rentals in the City, this funding from Wells Fargo represents a significant investment in the community and assures an improved quality of life for the residents. Union Avenue apartments provide an affordable home for families in a neighborhood that is bustling with newer developments and is close to public transportation and schools.  The anticipated start date for the renovation is the summer of 2018 and St. Ambrose is committed to creating a property that demonstrates that affordable rental can blend into the urban aesthetic and be viewed as an asset within the community.

Thank you to Wells Fargo for their support in creating better housing opportunities in Baltimore.

Host Home Program for Homeless Youth

In June 2017, key stakeholders in Baltimore assembled to kick off the city’s first Host Home Program for homeless youth, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ. The program identifies, screens, and trains community members who volunteer to host youth aged 18-24 who are in need of immediate housing.

You can help us fight youth homelessness by being one of our Hosts for young adults. Hosts receive a stipend and ongoing support from the Host Home Coordinator during their time in the program. If interested in participating in our upcoming training or just want to learn more about Host Homes, please contact Renee Stainrod at:

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center
321 East 25th Street
Baltimore , MD 21218
410-366-8550 x233
860-532-8835 (Cell)
410-366-8795 fax
Renees@stambros.org

Our 2-part monthly Host training schedule is as followed:

  • December 15th 5:30-7:30pm & December 16th 9-5pm
  • January 12th 5:30-7:30pm & January 13th 9-5pm

 Please RSVP by December 8th 2017

St. Ambrose’s Host Home Coordinator will collaborate with PSY, Star Track, and YES! to identify and appropriately connect young people in need out housing with hosts. Below is more information about the partnering organizations that are each contributing their unique strengths and knowledge to reduce youth homelessness:

Point Source Youth is working to implement research and scale the, Family and Kinship Strengthening, Short-Term Host Homes, and Rapid Rehousing programs that will help in the prevention of youth homelessness in Baltimore.

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center has a long history of connecting homeowners to interested renters who may not have the capital or credit to thrive in Baltimore’s rental market. They are excited to expand to short-term host homes for youth and will recruit 15 hosts in 2017.

Youth Empowered Society focuses on serving homeless youth while allying with them to create the change that is needed. YES! will be offering rapid re-housing units with an emphasis on case management and connection to employment.

Star Track (Special Teens At Risk–Together Reaching Access, Care, and Knowledge) is launching family and individual therapy designed for young adults who are homelessness or unstably housed. Program therapists are youth-centered and use a justice framework.