Welcome New Legal Services Summer Intern!

We have a new addition to the St. Ambrose team! Please join us in welcoming Shereen Ibrahim as one of our new Legal Services Summer Interns.

“I am a student from the University of Baltimore School of Law. The legal fields I am interested in are environmental, constitutional and national security law.

I chose to clerk at St. Ambrose because I want to use my legal abilities to assist members of underserved communities navigate property decisions. As a law clerk, I will be assisting clients with their foreclosure process, review landlord and tenant issues, and prepare wills and deeds. Serving underprivileged communities is one of my ultimate goals as a attorney and being a law clerk at St. Ambrose is a great first step in my legal career.” -Shereen

Welcome to the team, Shereen!

A Message of Hope

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears. Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; Thou who has by thy might led us into the light keep us forever in the path, we pray.The Negro National Anthem

It was a tense time! We were in national crisis, and we didn’t know how we could ever move forward. A black man was dead, our inner-cities were in the midst of a housing and economic crisis, we were engulfed in a foreign war, and people young and old, took to the streets in protest. The year was 1968 and the murdered man was Dr. Martin Luther King, and many of us felt like we had lost all hope.

In the past weeks, our country and the world have been witnesses to the brutal murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, confounded by the killing of Breonna Taylor, and felt the shame and sting of the blatant, weaponized, racist attack on Christian Cooper. For many of us, the events of the last few weeks have made us feel like we have come full circle – our communities dissected, our families destroyed, and our people crying out for justice.

Just over fifty years ago, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center was created with the Civil Rights Movement as its backdrop. Our mission is to create and maintain equal housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income people, primarily in Baltimore City, and to encourage and support strong and diverse neighborhoods. We believed then that treating all people with respect and dignity was our responsibility and their opportunity to move forward. We believed our engagement with our community could help eradicate the systemic racial injustice that plagued our country. These beliefs are as true today as they were in 1968, and though we have accomplished much over the past fifty years, this week we are reminded that there is more to work to be done.

As we consider the events of the past month and walk through the days and weeks ahead, let us support each other as family, then turn outward and help our community. Let us commit to ensuring that the values and work for which St. Ambrose was created continues. And together we will march on till victory is won.

Yours in solidarity,

Gerard Joab, Executive Director

Welcome New Staff!

We have a new addition to the Homesharing staff here at St. Ambrose! Please welcome Laura Bullock, Youth Homesharing Case Manager.

“I chose to come work at St. Ambrose because I believe in the mission which aligns with my personal commitment to support individuals in obtaining and maintaining adequate housing to prevent homelessness. I am motivated to give back to my community because I believe individuals can change when they have the support, guidance and resources they need to draw on their own strengths and abilities to move towards a pathway of healing.”

“The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion, and the will to help others.”- Albert Schweitzer

Welcome to the St. Ambrose family!

Welcome New Staff!

The St. Ambrose family is growing! Please join us in welcoming one of the newest additions to the St. Ambrose team, Curtis McNeil.

Curtis is one of St. Ambrose’s Youth Homesharing Case Managers.

“I believe in the redemptive quality of human beings and the quote that I try to live by was said by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘We will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friend’. That is why I chose to come work with St. Ambrose because it provides me the opportunity to not only be a voice in course correction, but to be an avenue for the course which a person may take.”

Are you a First-Time Homebuyer (FTB)? These Frequently Asked Questions are for you!

April is National Fair Housing Month!

As a HUD-certified Housing Counseling agency, St. Ambrose has the responsibility and privilege to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 protects individuals from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. “Housing, like food and water, is an essential basic need. Fair housing laws are in place to ensure everyone has equal opportunities to access appropriate affordable housing. This process in action doesn’t occur in a vacuum. For more than 50 years, St. Ambrose has assisted Baltimore and surrounding areas in making safe, affordable homes a reality for its residents,” said Erin Broussard, Deputy Director of St. Ambrose.

HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Anna Maria Farias, addresses the recognition of Fair Housing Month amidst the current Coronavirus pandemic.“I invite all of you to join me in using the occasion of Fair Housing Month to renew our commitment to the principles of justice and equality, beginning with our response to discriminatory policies and practices associated with Covid-19.”

FAQ’s

Are there incentives for FTB?

Yes. Many incentives are provided by local and state housing agencies. We can help you navigate the details and requirements to obtain many of the FTB incentives. Click here to visit the Maryland Mortgage Program: www.mmp.maryland.gov, which provides information on home loans, financial incentives and other assistance options for many homebuyers.

Do you think it’s a good time to buy a house in the current economic climate?

If you feel financially stable and have 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved, the current housing market could be a great opportunity to purchase. Mortgage rates are low, sellers may need to drop sale prices in order to make quick sales, and there is less buyer competition.

While the status of the housing market depends on how bad an outbreak an area is suffering, most markets are feeling some sort of hit. “The Coronavirus is leading to fewer home buyers searching in the marketplace, as well as some listings being delayed,” says Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®. Conversely, here at St. Ambrose, our Real Estate program has been amazed at how active the market is during this crisis!

Bottom line: With fewer buyers in the marketplace, there is less competition plus the added benefit of historically low interest rates.

Will mortgage rates increase?

Based on a prediction from Freddie Mac and other housing authorities, rates will continue to hover around 3.32% for the next 90 days. Forecasts for 2020 say rates will average around 3.7%.

For instance, rates could bounce between 3.3% and 4% all year, and you’d get an average of around 3.7%. But when you lock in your rate during that range is important.

Still have questions? Please contact St. Ambrose’s Housing Counseling program at 410-366-8550 ext. 249.

A Match Made at Home

Ms. D. and Ms. L. were first matched in 2009 and have been Homesharing together for 11 years!

A Homesharing Case Manager with St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center met with Ms. D. to begin the process of finding her perfect Homesharing match. In the next few days, Ms. D. met a couple of potential homesharers but in 2009, she decided to choose Ms. L. to share her home with.

Even though Ms. L. had already had one stroke, she was still able to take care of herself and remain independent. When a second stroke hit Ms. L., she was taken to a skilled nursing facility in order to regain her health. Ms. L.’s sister was unable to take care of her so Ms. D. made the decision to step up to the plate for her long-time friend who needed her help.

Ms. D. and Ms. L. were once strangers, now great friends. Ms. D. has been the primary caregiver to Ms. L. since 2012 and now the pair is inseparable. The two friends are also cross-country travelers venturing on trips to Connecticut, Delaware and even Las Vegas!

Ms. D. said, “Homesharing is an excellent program that provides companionship and someone to talk to and go places with. I’m retired now but am working part-time which is why Homesharing has been a wonderful match for me.”

A Survivor’s Story

Ms. C. is the epitome of a survivor.

Ms. C. has been taking care of others practically her entire life, which she has spent all of in Baltimore. She has 13 brothers and sisters, three biological children and four foster children who she later adopted. Ms. C. was a nurse for many years in the City but when her son became very ill and hospitalized with asthma related illnesses, she could no longer work.

“I have also been a very sick person. Open heart surgery, breast cancer, bladder cancer… but I try very hard to take care of myself. I asked God for the strength, and He gave it to me.”

Ms. C. first came to St. Ambrose for Homeownership Counseling in the late 1980’s when she was looking to buy her first home. She said, “It was very helpful!” She also contemplated the Homesharing Program at St. Ambrose but then decided she was going to adopt her then foster children. She has lived in her home now for well over 20 years! “God has always been there for me; especially after finding my home.” 

Unexpectedly, severe rain and debris began rushing in from a hole in Ms. C.’s roof which was filling her children’s bedroom with water. She knew she had to do something. That’s when she decided to reach back out to St. Ambrose and the HUBS Program (Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors) for help.

HUBS is a program through which legacy homeowners can age-in-place by accessing much-needed home repairs and modifications to ensure housing stability for themselves and for future generations. Delays in processing requests for public home repair programs have led to a backlog of low-income older adults waiting to receive vital home repairs. “St. Ambrose rushed my roof job and made it a priority. ‘Home’ to me is my pride and my joy.”

“I have told several people that the HUBS program can assist older adults who have limited financial capabilities,” Ms. C. continued. “Older adults just don’t have money like that, but there are programs like HUBS that can help.”

Gail MacInnes, St. Ambrose HUBS Case Manager explains that “By providing support for critical home repairs or modifications to improve safety, HUBS helps older adults in Baltimore City to stay in their homes and to continue to thrive in their communities.” St. Ambrose became a HUBS site in October 2018 and has completed home modifications and accessibility concerns for 76 older adult households to date.

A Summer of Building Community- TOGETHER!

On July 30, long-time Baltimore City resident Mrs. Comer had her back porch painted and grab bars installed in her upstairs bathroom for safety. Volunteers from Wells Fargo installed new flooring in her living room and dining room. And this fall, both her furnace and roof will be repaired. 

These modifications were made possible through Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors (HUBS) and Wells Fargo, in partnership with Rebuilding Together, Central Baltimore Partnership, Jubilee Baltimore, and Jubilee Arts. HUBS is a program that allows seniors (over 65) in Baltimore City to continue to live in their homes and neighborhoods safely and independently as they age by helping them with home repairs and safety modifications. 

Clients like Mrs. Comer, who live in particular neighborhoods designated by Wells Fargo, may have access to additional support for sprucing up. The Wells Fargo Foundation is providing implementation grant funding for Front and Center: A Five Year Equity Plan for Central Baltimore. Part of this plan is to support decent, affordable housing initiatives- especially focused on legacy residents being able to age safely in place.

“I have lived in my home for nearly 50 years. I didn’t realize I needed help but now I do. This is such a wonderful gift that I have received. I am just so appreciative!”- Mrs. Comer