HomeFree-USA, a community-based homeownership and financial counseling nonprofit approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has opened a new office in Baltimore and launched Move Up in Maryland, a program intended to reclaim West Baltimore neighborhoods that have been plagued by vacant properties and the devastating effects of the financial crisis.
According to HomeFree-USA, Move Up in Maryland aims to provide financial support to families, offer employment opportunities and expand homeownership opportunities through the reuse of vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties.
The initiative plans to acquire, rehabilitate and sell up to 50 formerly vacant properties in 2016, starting in West Baltimore. To date, the program has acquired and rehabbed 23 Baltimore properties and sold them to low- and moderate-income families within 30 days of rehab completion.
The program already has many supporters, including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Baltimore City, Susquehanna Bank, Bank of America and Ocwen Financial Corp., whose initial grant allowed the initiative to move forward.