Your New Belair-Edison Neighbors

St. Ambrose recently hosted a happy hour for new homeowners and friends of the agency at the Station North Arts Cafe.  We were so grateful that Ms. Shanice Jones, who recently bought a St. Ambrose home, came and met other homeowners and some staff.  Here is her uplifting story as told by Belair-Neighborhoods, Inc.

“Keeping Up with the Joneses” – Written by Kadija Hart for Belair-Edison Neighborhood News Spring 2012

Ms. Shanice Jones and her son, new neighbors in Belair-Edison.

When Ms. Jones came to Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, Inc. (BENI) First Time Home Buyer’s Workshop, back in June of 2011, she knew homeownership was in the very near future. After conducting her one-on-one counseling session with Roy Miller, BENI’s Homeownership Specialist, she knew that Belair-Edison was the neighborhood that she and her 15 year old son would soon call their home!  “Mr. Miller was very nice and knowledgeable”, said Jones. “He made me feel comfortable … and reassured me that this was the community for my family.”

With the help of her phenomenal Realtor, Yolanda Powell of Long & Foster, Jones closed on a newly renovated St. Ambrose home on Cliftmont Ave.  “The day I closed was move in day too,” said Jones. “My friends and family were waiting for me, outside, with the U-Haul Truck. We were so excited!”

Ms. Jones had been a renter for over 10 years and was somewhat afraid of taking the leap into homeownership. However, she wanted to provide a stable environment for her son. “I want to be an example for my son,” she said.  “Not only by teaching him responsibility, but should anything ever happen to me, I want to be able to make sure that his future is taken care of. This is an investment in his future.”

The path to homeownership was a bit of a long one, but that didn’t matter to Jones. She used the time to become fully educated about all of the closing cost assistance she was eligible for and received a large amount of grant assistance.

“I went on the Trolley Tour and spoke with Live Baltimore and Healthy Neighborhoods. I worked with St. Ambrose, and I even received an FHA grant,” said Jones. “I was determined.”

The oldest grandchild on her maternal side, she is the first grandchild to purchase a home.  Jones loves being the example for her family and friends. “I tell as many as people as possible about this program,” she said. “I want to help them accomplish their dreams like I have.”  What Ms. Jones loves the most about her block, is that it is filled with homeowners.  “I was tired of renting from unprofessional landlords who seemed all about just collecting rent and not making me feel like the house I lived in was mine,” said Jones.

“I know that many renters expect the landlords to keep up the property, but it’s important they do their part too,” she said. “Homeowners protect the value of their properties, and that’s what I like about my block.”  In addition to the block’s charm, and her homes new renovations, Jones loves her parking pad. “I can just park in the back and bring my groceries right in,” she said. “I don’t ever have to look for a parking space!”

Ms. Jones has big plans in store including finishing up her BA in Accounting at Sojourner-Douglass College, continuing to be a foster parent to young children, helping her son achieve academic success while in High School, and starting her own business!   “I am extremely motivated, always trying to accomplish things that will allow my son to have the best quality of life as possible,” Ms. Jones affirmed.  Welcome the Joneses to neighborhood!

Baltimore Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; Hosts National Conferences

Baltimore will be hosting the National Main Streets Conference April 1-4, 2012 in conjunction with the National Symposium on Arts/Cultural/Entertainment Districts taking place on April 4 and 5. These events will bring people to Baltimore from across the country to discuss the actions states and cities nationwide are taking towards strategic revitalization in an economy that has left communities, businesses, and individuals floundering. Contemporary policies and incentive programs will be discussed through the lens of the social, economic, and cultural impact of designated arts and entertainment districts. These events are taking place with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Maryland State Arts Council.

In addition to supporting the symposium, the NEA recently awarded a group of organizations based in Station North a $150,000 Our Town grant. This coalition includes Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., Maryland Institute College of Art, the Central Baltimore Partnership, and D:Center Baltimore, and Baltimore Office for the Promotion and the Arts. Station North itself, the designated arts and entertainment district, spans the neighborhoods of Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay. 447 communities applied for the grant and the Station North coalition received one of only 51 grants awarded. $150,000 was the highest amount available through the grant.

 Through the Our Town grant, the NEA is working to improve citizenship and increase the livability of communities. Not only do the Our Town grants financially support improving the quality of life, they seek to encourage creativity, create community identity, and revitalize local economies. Baltimore’s neighborhoods are distinct and often already provide a strong sense of identity. The Our Town grant that funds revitalization efforts in Station North will be able to capitalize on this sense of self-awareness in the arts and entertainment district and use cultural community endeavors to create collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors.

“Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. In this time of national economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman.

For more information about the National Main Streets Conference and the National Symposium on Arts/Cultural/Entertainment Districts (taking place April 1-4 and April 4 & 5, 2012), please visit: