“The cornerstone of a healthy family is housing. You can’t think about your grades as a child if you don’t have a good place to stay. You can’t think about crime and safety if your house is not a safe place,” states Garrick R. Good, Executive Director of North East Housing Initiative (NEHI).
A housing model unique to Baltimore
NEHI is a community land trust dedicated to providing permanently affordable shared equity housing in Baltimore. “A community land trust is community-owned land that is removed from the private real estate market, overseen by a board of directors, and made up of members who live and work within the geographically defined area,” Garrick explains. NEHI buys vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties, and using subsidies, rehabs these properties into permanently affordable homes for families earning less than 50% of the area medium income.
If this doesn’t sound like something you’ve seen before, that’s because it isn’t. “Baltimore is the first city to have an affordable housing trust fund. We now have states across the country looking to see if they can replicate it and how,” Garrick says. NEHI is working to educate state and city legislators about the social and fiscal benefits and functions of community land trust organizations. In addition to giving low-income families the opportunity to create and build wealth, the community and city realize the benefit of increased property values.
Delays in government funds
Baltimore City depends on nonprofits like NEHI to provide services ranging from housing and food assistance to rehabilitation, youth mentorship, and job training. Baltimore’s most disenfranchised and vulnerable populations rely on these essential services. However, the City’s contracting and payment process often leaves nonprofits waiting over a year for payment. To avoid a disruption in services, directors like Garrick must find creative solutions to keep the lights on.
This is where the Knott Foundation’s cash flow program can help. Under Garrick’s leadership, NEHI has been the recipient of four cash flow loans from the Knott Foundation. Three of these loans were awarded during the pandemic, helping NEHI to weather exacerbated delays in government payments at the same time that housing insecurity worsened.
The future of NEHI
When Garrick started at NEHI in 2018, their annual budget was $50,000. Today, it’s $5 million. He has also worked to develop institutional partners who provide services ranging from financial literacy counseling to a tool-library homeowners can borrow from for home repairs. By 2025, his goal is to have 200 homes in their community land trust. “Our goal is to make dreams come true for families that didn’t feel they had the ability to buy a house.”