University of Maryland, Baltimore opening doors to homeownership


Baltimore— The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Live Near Your Work (LNYW) program is capitalizing on its success by expanding into two neighborhoods with historic significance: Druid Heights and Heritage Crossing.

The program, offers UMB employees assistance with down payments and closing costs on newly purchased homes in designated areas. UMB contributes $16,000 per eligible participant as a commitment to its surrounding communities, while the city of Baltimore will offer a matching grant of up to $2,500 for those who are eligible.

The two new neighborhoods, which are walkable and close to campus, meet the mission of the program, according to Emily Winkler, MS, benefits manager, Human Resources, and LNYW Program coordinator.

“We decided to expand based mainly on interest on campus. We wanted to offer more to our employees, so we created an application for neighborhoods to apply,” she said. From early 2018 through June 2020, the program has helped 44 employees to purchase homes in the eligible neighborhoods in Southwest Baltimore, with three others in the pipeline, meaning nearly half of LNYW’s initial $1.5 million subsidy has been expended. The average purchase price has been $193,000. The other seven neighborhoods are Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Hollins Market, Mount Clare, Pigtown/ Washington Village, Poppleton, and Union Square. Demetrius Shambley, MS, senior facilities planner, Office of Real Estate, Planning, and Space Management, who also serves on the LNYW committee, purchased a rowhome last August in Pigtown through the program. “Homeownership was always something that was important to me,” said Shambley, who walks to work. “You couldn’t beat the grants that were being offered, so it just was the perfect opportunity.”

To be eligible, applicants must be a regular full- or part-time faculty, staff or postdoctoral fellow employee in good standing. Participants must contribute a minimum of $1,000 toward the down payment, prove creditworthiness, and complete a homeownership, counseling program.

“Since the pandemic, I haven’t seen a decrease in inquiries. If anything, I’m seeing more people because interest rates are low,” Winkler said. Druid Heights, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, boasts large, three-story Victorian-style row homes that have up to five bedrooms, with new construction in the Baker’s View Development. The median home purchase price is $29,000, according to Live Baltimore, with estimated mortgages of $198. Almost 30 percent of residents in the community own their homes.

The neighborhood, which is roughly bordered by North Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, Madison Avenue and Laurens Street, is walkable and close to Druid Hill Park. It is commuter- friendly with easy access to Metro stations and Pennsylvania Station. Heritage Crossing is a mixed-income townhouse development that was completed in 2003. The family- and senior-friendly neighborhood boasts a historic gazebo as its community, gathering place. The suburban-like community is walkable with easy access to the UMB schools and downtown locations such as the Inner Harbor, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and M&T Bank Stadium. The neighborhood features 260 attached and semi-detached townhomes and apartments. The median home purchase price is $144,500, according to Live Baltimore, with an estimated mortgage of $986. Thirty-six percent of residents own their homes.