Lelia finds her home in Belair-Edison

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We caught up with St. Ambrose homeowner Lelia Kimbrough for a few minutes between her workday and her son’s baseball game one afternoon last week. Lelia bought her newly remodeled St. Ambrose home in the neighborhood of Belair-Edison in August 2016.

Lelia’s beautiful new home actually sits on the same block of the house she rented when she first moved to the neighborhood many years ago. Lelia loves the neighborhood for its diversity and openness. She takes advantage of the trails in Herring Run Park and loves the azalea bushes that brighten up the neighborhood every spring. She commented on how the neighborhood’s diversity really makes Belair-Edison a special place to live, “I like the mix of people and ideas and plans. You get a variety of houses and it’s local, but close to transportation, too.”

For Lelia, the homebuying process was straight forward. She completed her home buyer education course with Druid Heights CDC and was very mindful of being prepared with all of the necessary paperwork every step of the way. Lelia received closing cost assistance and grants from both local and national sources. She qualified for a Vacants to Value grant, a grant from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, as well as closing cost assistance from the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). NFHA grants are available through St. Ambrose to our new homeowners through NFHA’s Inclusive Communities Grants Program.Lelia commented on her home buying process, “I did not have a bad experience. Once I decided on the property, everything just flowed.”

What attracted Lelia to the house was the open kitchen and the added bathroom and closet space. Lelia’s done a great job making the space her own, both inside and outside. Her favorite find for her home was a beautiful wrought iron patio set she picked up second hand for $45.

In her short time as a homeowner she’s already participated in block events and clean-ups, shared gardening supplies with her neighbor, and developed a good rapport with the kids who run around on her block. She enjoys meeting new neighbors, and sometimes even gets help with bringing her groceries in from the neighborhood kids. Lelia’s adamant about getting a lot of neighbors involved with clean-up projects and neighborhood events.

IMG_1006Lelia will be the first to tell you that Belair-Edison is a strong community with a good spirit, but that its success depends on everyone working together and contributing to making Belair-Edison a great place to live.

We’re delighted to have yet another good neighbor living in one of our beautiful St. Ambrose homes. Congratulations, Lelia on reaching your goal of homeownership, and thank you for helping to make Belair-Edison a great place to call home!

Lelia shares her home with her two sons and 3 yorkies. Her oldest son plays football at a college in Scranton and lives with her part-time, while her youngest son is 14 years old.

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Happy to call her home her own

Want to learn more about Lelia’s beloved neighborhood? Check out Belair-Edison’s neighborhood website.

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Homeowner Spotlight: David Blenman

David Blenman, a paramedic firefighter in Baltimore County, purchased a St. Ambrose home in the Glenham-Belford neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore at the end of last year. We stopped by his home this week to see how he was settling in and making the house his home.

Blenman got connected to St. Ambrose through his realtor, and after touring several Cape Cod homes he was surprised to find that the Glenham-Belford home was such a perfect fit.What attracted Mr. Blenman to his home was the size and the openness. The yard was an added benefit, which is spacious but manageable.

The open layout is actually one of the home’s new features. When St. Ambrose Housing Development acquired the home in 2015 we removed a wall to enlarge the kitchen and incorporate it more fluidly into the living space. St. Ambrose also added new flooring, cabinets, counter tops, light fixtures, and appliances.

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For Blenman, the homebuying  process was straightforward and really exciting. Blenman completed his homebuyer education course through Harbell and was diligent about completeing all the necessary paperwork in a timely way.  As a first time homebuyer, Blenman qualified for the Grand Slam Program through the city as well as closing cost assistance from the National Fair Housing Alliance, which is made available through St. Ambrose. Everything really fell into place for Blenman, and he was actually able to close on his home two days ahead of schedule.

It was an exciting time when he sat down to do the math on what he could afford when it came to buying a home. Not only is his monthly payment just as manageable as a rent payment, “it’s mine,” Blenman commented significantly.

And he really has made the home his own. The house is fully furnished and impeccably cared for, complete with a rec room in the basement and a master bedroom suite upstairs, features that add comfort and privacy to this compact home.

As Mr. Blenman points out, between the yard and the living area, it would be easy to host a family function without feeling too crowded, but the home is also a comfortable size for himself and his 14 year old son who lives with him part time. It was also essential that his daughter, who is stationed in Seattle with the Navy, has someplace to come home to.

St. Ambrose homes are offered first to teachers, firefighters, policemen, and emergency personnel as part of HUD’s “Good Neighbor Next Door Program.” The Good Neighbor program encourages our community’s public servants to support neighborhood revitalization by becoming homeowners.  When asked what Blenman is most proud of in his 6 year career with the fire department, he said “just being capable of doing the job.” He admits it’s not for everyone and that it takes heart to go into the fire.

Blenman certainly lives up to the “Good Neighbor” name, before buying his home he had rented an apartment in an older gentleman’s home on the west side of town. Blenman was both a tenant and keeper, taking care of some maintenance items around the house and checking in with his landlord periodically to ensure all was well.

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On buying his own home, Blenman admits humbly, “sometimes I come home and I’m still in disbelief that I’m a homeowner.”

 

Summer Learning at St. Ambrose

When summer rolls around, many college kids are eager to be free of commitments and head to the beach. These students, however, wanted to do something more meaningful with their time. Here are four students who are spending their summer interning with St. Ambrose.

Tasayeh Nickens,

Housing Development Intern

Tasayeh goes door-to-door in Belair-Edison, conducting surveys and collecting valuable opinions and impressions from community members about Belair-Edison.

Tasayeh heard about St. Ambrose from a friend who interned here last summer. “She was able to connect me with  Jill, who found me a position.”

DSC_5719She knew St. Ambrose would be the perfect fit. “I did my research about St. Ambrose and found what they really did interesting and very positive things for the community. I really like what they value; rehabbing homes, that’s something I’m really interested in. It really helps people who aren’t as able to purchase homes.”

Her favorite part about her internship is “being able to interact with the people in the community and hearing what they have to say about what’s going on in the city.”

During the school year, Tasayeh attends University of Alabama, where she studies social work. “I plan on becoming a licensed, clinical social worker, and I plan on working at a hospital doing medical social work. I also want to get my masters degree in social work and public health.”

Tasayeh feels that her experience at St. Ambrose is giving her a taste of the social work field “because they’re advocating for the people and the community.”

DSC_5719 (2)Courtney Watkins,

Law Clerk

Courtney works in the Legal Services Department and drafts deeds, conducts crucial legal research, and connects clients to attorneys.

Courtney plans to become a lawyer through her studies at University of Maryland  Francis King Carey School of Law. Because of her interest in housing law, a career development coach directed her to St. Ambrose. I don’t think I could have gotten the same experience elsewhere.”

“I really like that in public interest you have more hands-on work than say, at a big firm where you’re just doing legal research. I really like the experience that I get to be doing the work myself rather than just whispering in an attorney’s ear something that I found online.”

She’s trying to figure out what kind of lawyer she wants to be. “There are still so many avenues I want to explore. That’s why I’m really excited I’ve gotten to try out family law this summer.”

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Karly Horn,
Homesharing Intern

Karly personally follows up with each Homesharing client to ensure their satisfaction and is helping the department go paperless.

She recently spoke with someone who was first matched with their homesharer nearly 15 years ago. They now consider their homesharer “part of the family.” Karly’s favorite part about her work with St. Ambrose is “hearing what the program I’m part of is doing for people.”

At University of Richmond, Karly is majoring in leadership studies and minoring in history. An alumna suggested she intern at St. Ambrose, thinking it would provide her with the perfect experience. Karly structured her own interdisciplinary program for the summer, incorporating 4 internships. “I wanted to see how nonprofits are structured.”

Karly is still trying to determine her career path. “I want to help people, I just don’t know in what capacity yet.”

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Resource Development Intern

Maegan collects stories from clients and staff alike to share for St. Ambrose’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

She connected to St. Ambrose through her summer fellowship, Walter Sondheim Jr. Maryland Nonprofit Leadership Program. “I grew up in Baltimore and have seen firsthand how housing issues can affect members of our community. St. Ambrose drew me in because they do so much to provide homes for people, making our city stronger as a whole.”

“I love that every day I hear firsthand stories from clients whose lives have been changed by the amazing people at St. Ambrose.”

Maegan hopes to serve in the Peace Corps after graduation. She knows that she wants to dedicate her life to public service, but is unsure what direction it will take her. “I know that whatever I do, I’ll always look back at this summer and think about the valuable skills I learned here at St. Ambrose.”

 

Forgotten planters in transformation in Belair-Edison

Seventeen forgotten planters line Belair road through the community of Belair-Edison. These non-descript planters blend into the sidewalk and many of them haven’t housed a thriving plant for the last few seasons. As part of a greater movement of public art, community engagement, and beautification in Belair-Edison, the neighborhood is reclaiming these long forgotten planters through the craft of mosaic art.

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Maman Rikin, mosaic art teacher

Monday night mosaic art workshops held at the local public charter school, AFYA, are attended by community members of all ages and led by Maman Rikin, a professor of fine arts at Baltimore County Community College. To begin a series that showcases some of the exciting developments in Belair-Edison, we talked to a few new-found mosaic artists who have been participating in the workshops.

Joyce and Pat are members of a senior group called the Silver Angels that meets twice a month at the library. Joyce has been a resident of Belair-Edison since 1997 and her favorite thing about her neighborhood are the parks and the trees. She likes that the community is small enough that people recognize each other and look out for each other, even if they don’t know everyone’s names. If she could change one thing about Belair-Edison, it would be to encourage local landlords to be more accountable for their properties to help keep the neighborhood clean. This is her first time doing mosaic art, and she’s enjoying trying something new!

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Pat and Joyce

Pat has been a resident of Belair-Edison since 1994 and she still remembers the first person to stop by her home and welcome her to the neighborhood.  Pat is a former Belair Road business owner and she is full of neighborhood stories. In her stories of Belair-Edison, neighbors work together to advocate on behalf of the youth,  collaborate to create a culture of cleaning up the block, or come together like a family to support each other. Mosaic art is a new interest for her, but for Pat, it seems that anything for the betterment of the neighborhood is something she’s happy to be a part of.

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Noel and Abby

Abby has been a math teacher at AFYA for 7 years and she is the school’s host for the workshops. She coordinated with Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, Inc. to get her students involved in a community clean-up on September 11th this year and has plans to get her students involved in decorating more planters with mosaic art this spring. What Abby likes best about Belair-Edison is that AFYA is right in the middle of the community, and it’s important to Abby that her students are involved in service activities that are central to the community. This is her first time doing art in a public way and she’s enjoying the mosaic process because of its inexact nature. As a math teacher she’s so often focused on accuracy, so it’s been a good outlet to create something that is never exact.

Abby runs a student club with the art teacher Noel, a fellow mosaic art workshop participant, and they will be leading the next wave of mosaic art planters as a project for their students. The goal is that by creating their own mosaic planter designs and contributing something special to the community the middle school aged students will feel a sense of ownership for their community and pride for their contribution. She loves the potential a community art project like this could have for her students to learn about community development, urban renewal, and art!

Each community artist shared their unique vision for what a better Belair-Edison could look like, but one thing that Joyce, Pat, and Abby all shared, was that Belair-Edison is a community that cares, and this is certainly something that is evident at the mosaic art workshops. Each mosaic artist shares a sense of responsibility for the task at hand, and is committed to working towards something rejuvenated and beautiful to share with the neighborhood.

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10+ workshops and many hours later…..

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Our Newest Homeowner Proves the Power of Resilience

Joseph Butler recently purchased a newly renovated home from St. Ambrose in the Belair-Edison neighborhood. Fifty-seven years old and a first time homebuyer, Butler said that he was looking ahead to retirement and wanted something to call his own, “anyone can own a car, but a home- that’s something special.”Joseph Butler

Mr. Butler is a particularly special first time homeowner for St. Ambrose because he is a former tenant with St. Ambrose Rental Services. He lived in St. Martin’s apartments in West Baltimore for seven years before purchasing his new home in Belair-Edison. As the first client who has both rented from St. Ambrose and purchased a St. Ambrose home, we sat down with Butler to inquire about his journey to homeownership.

This spring, “things just fell into place” for Butler, who had always dreamed of owning his own home. Although he admits that he had his doubts during the home-buying process. Things were moving slowly before the settlement and his patience was tested as he waited for the final approval to go through. Working with Denise Hairston, our in-house realtor at St. Ambrose, Butler finally went to settlement on Friday, June 12th, accompanied at the signing table by his proud father.

Through support from the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) based in Washington, DC, St. Ambrose offers closing cost assistance grants for first time homebuyers. This special funding helps us to bring new homeowners into Baltimore neighborhoods. Butler, however, was a special case.  Because he was our renter at the time, a technicality prevented St. Ambrose from offering him the closing cost grant. But NFHA wouldn’t allow a small complication to prevent Butler from receiving this support. The last thing to fall into place for Butler was a grant check directly from NFHA to support his closing costs. Hairston’s advocacy on Butler’s behalf was critical in ensuring this benefit was accepted by the lender.

Butler’s advice to someone who wants to own a home is to “save money, be patient” and citing the old adage that so often rings true, “Rome was not built in a day.” He also recommends others to be proactive in addressing their credit issues. “Have an open conversation with those who you owe debts.”

Resilience and gratitude are two other factors that undoubtedly contributed to Butler’s success in achieving his lifelong goal.  An army veteran from the DC area, Butler moved to Baltimore in 1998. Butler was honest and candid about his life’s journey. A former drug user, Butler went through rehab at Maryland Center for Veterans Education (MCVET) in 2000 and has been clean for 15 years. While living in St. Martin’s, Butler paid off all of his debts and sought assistance to help to repair his credit in order to prepare to take out a mortgage. “I am so blessed,” Butler emphasizes when he speaks of his journey to homeownership. His warm smile radiates his appreciation for life’s lessons and successes.

Mr. Butler works for the federal government as a security guard for the Smithsonian. He commutes to Landover, Maryland where he works an evening shift at the Smithsonian storage facility. He’s also worked at the American Indian, Air and Space, American History, and Natural History museums. Butler has loved the opportunity to learn from museum curators during his tenure at the Smithsonian. The American History Museum is his favorite, noting a Duke Ellington exhibit, JK Lilly’s historic coin collection, and the first ladies’ inaugural dresses.  Another testament to Butler’s ethic, he actually left his position at the Smithsonian for several years and was successful in earning his job back- not an easy feat for a position in the government.

What is Mr. Butler looking forward to about his new home? For one, all of the appliances are brand new. The luxury of not having to worry about replacing the air conditioning, furnace, and kitchen appliances is peace of mind for a first time home buyer, and having his own brand new washer and dryer means he has the privilege of doing laundry in the comfort of his own home. Another amenity about his new home is that he can practice his saxophones (both alto and tenor) more freely than he could in his apartment. Afforded with both a front and backyard, he’s also looking forward to sitting outside and drinking coffee while he reads the paper.

When asked what attracted Butler to Belair-Edison in particular, he didn’t hesitate for a moment before responding, “It’s nice and quiet. Listen… all you hear is the wind blowing across the trees.” Indeed, nestled on a quiet street next to Herring Run Park, Butler’s new home is far enough from the bustle to feel at complete peace.

“This will always be mine,” Butler says with pride. “I am so blessed.”

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The Rehab Chronicles – 2800 Lake Ave

2800 Lake Ave is complete and on the market for sale!!

BEFORE

Pre

AFTER

Post

True move-in condition!

Features include:

3 Bedrooms

1 ½ New Baths

New Eat-In Kitchen with:

-> Stainless Steel Appliances

      (To be installed upon sale)

-> Granite Countertop

New HVAC & HWH

New Plumbing & Electric

New Windows & Ceiling Fans

New Roof & Storm Doors

Gleaming Hardwood Floors

Main Level Laundry

New Washer & Dryer

Fresh New Paint & Blinds Warranties

For more pictures and information on this property, click the link below:

http://listings.realbird.com/C7B8B8C2/362651.aspx

The Rehab Chronicles – 2800 Lake Ave

2800 Lake Avenue looks GREAT!!! The oak flooring has been laid and the rest of the flooring throughout has been refinishedBoth bathrooms are finished and the kitchen cabinets are installed.  Check out how the new renovations are coming along!

To view more on the Rehab Chronicles click here.  To view more on the progress of 2800 Lake Ave click here.

Exterior
Exterior
First flr
First Floor
First flr2
First Floor
Second Flr
Second Floor
Second Flr2
Second Floor
Basement
Basement