ANNAPOLIS – Nineteen Maryland communities with high crime rates will receive $10.5 million in low-interest mortgage funds to boost home ownership and help stabilize neighborhoods.
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Raymond Skinner, Department of Housing and Community Development secretary, announced the grants Tuesday as part of the 2001 HotSpot Homeownership Initiative 2001.
“This initiative will help us make neighborhoods stronger and safer, one home at a time,” said Townsend.
Thirteen local agencies will receive funding derived from the sale of community development bonds. Homeowners will be offered to potential homeowners at a 5 percent interest rate. Maryland has 62 designated HotSpot communities.
The initiative, built upon the almost $4 million awarded to eight HotSpot communities in 1999, has three goals: help people buy homes, stabilize and revitalize older neighborhoods and create partnerships between homeowners and others to fight crime, said Townsend.
Charles Wellford, Maryland Justice Analysis Center director, confirmed that efforts to increase home ownership in poorer areas tend to depress overall crime rates.
“The higher the proportion of home ownership in a community, the lower the crime rate,” he said, citing the social cohesion that forms a buffer against crime when people have a sense of ownership in their community.
Homeowners are more likely to call the police and cooperate with law enforcement efforts, he added.
The HotSpot program is consistent with Gov. Parris Glendening’s Smart Growth initiative in that it focuses resources on existing communities, said Skinner. All of the 19 neighborhoods are in priority funding areas, and most are clustered in the central part of the state.
Three Baltimore agencies will use $1,688,044 for the East Baltimore North Cluster, Highlandtown, and the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Community.
Baltimore County received $1 million to aid the Scotts Branch, Woodmoor, Hillendale, Yorkway and Riverview neighborhoods.
Howard County’s Long Reach and Harper’s Choice communities will receive $1 million to help families purchase rental homes.
Seat Pleasant in Prince George’s County will join other agencies in using $500,000 to rehabilitate and resell nearly 80 vacant homes, a high vacancy rate for a city with about 5,500 people, said Thomas Renahan, city administrator.
“We’re very pleased,” said Renahan. “Anything that will help us to put citizens in new homes . . . is good for the city.”
Montgomery County will put its $1 million toward home ownership opportunities and revitalization efforts in the Cinnamon Woods neighborhood. Hagerstown’s $1 million will help provide mortgages for about 25 families. Aberdeen received $1 million for the Swan Meadows neighborhood.
“We will probably help 20 first-time home buyers in the city of Aberdeen,” said Mayor Douglas Wilson.
Harford County received $500,000 for Edgewood, and the city of Salisbury received $1 million to help 24 families buy homes in the Westside and Church Street HotSpot areas.
Two Anne Arundel County neighborhoods received funding, including $750,000 for the Parole neighborhood.
Delegate John Leopold, R-Anne Arundel, said he was glad to see HotSpot communities receiving additional state funding, especially for the Brooklyn Heights community designated to receive $1 million to help 16 families buy homes.
Leopold approves of the program’s efforts to encourage neighborhood stability and decrease crime, which can encourage economic development.
“It’s also an invitation for businesses to come back into communities because it’s safer.”