Posted on June 27, 2012 by Becky Murray at Habitrails.org
Sleeping. But my eyes feel like they’re glued open. Perhaps because I’ve had three cups of coffee and am now getting pumped listening to The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel. Again.
Today’s magic number: 40,000. That’s approximately how many empty houses exist in Baltimore.
Habitat of the Chesapeake has worked on rehabs since its inception.
With over 30 staff, they operate 3 ReStores and generate 60 homes a year. A total of 200 homes are in the pipeline. Already, 92 families have begun Habitat’s homeownership process.
One of the AmeriCorps expressed disappointment in his hometown’s affiliate. A major city, they ‘only’ build 10 houses a year. I don’t tell him that 10 is a lot for any affiliate.
Habitat of the Chesapeake results from a merger of four other affiliates surrounding the Baltimore area. Thus providing a greater capacity to fundraise and build.
Our project for the day is a five bedroom rehab. Some of the regular volunteers admit this may be the biggest lot they have worked on. One man argues this space would fit five regular Habitat homes.
In Baltimore, regular homes are typically row houses – often no more than 16 feet across with multiple stories. Recently, row housing has become undesirable to many residents and public outcry favors increased demolitions.
Habitat of the Chesapeake homes range between $400 and $700 for the monthly mortgage whereas rent can cost between $1200 and $1300 for a similarly sized property.
This major cutback in payment must make partner families quite happy.
I’m just happy to be using power tools. They keep me awake.
Posted on June 28, 2012 by Becky Murray at Habitrails.org
According to one of the construction leaders from Civic Works, a screw can be used to sharpen a carpenter’s pencil just as easily as a box cutter.
Civic Works is Baltimore’s locally run version of AmeriCorps. Members serve a four month term. It provides much needed labor to the non-profit improvement projects throughout the city. Many alumni continue on to participate in AmeriCorps through this program.
Two Baltimore natives worked on site with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake through Civic Works. They were two of three homegrown residents I met during my visit.
At twenty years old, our project leader had studied carpentry and recently fathered a one year old daughter. Three of us, also including a volunteer from AT&T, cut boards to cover the 2 by 4s around the windows.
It took us all day to complete four windows. But those cuts are perfect.
I expected not to like Baltimore, but it has a slew of redeeming qualities: 1. Friendly residents, like the 5’6 man with freckles and gold front tooth who spoke softly but stood close enough that a whisper would have sufficed. 2. Graffiti. 3. Concerned residents. 4. An efficient, 24-hour public transportation system, including a selection of free buses. 5. Bikram yoga. 6. Unicyclists who perform interpretive dances to such gems as the Titanic theme song. 7. A Lithuanian dance club. 8. Row Homes. 9. John Hopkins. 10. Vat loads of Peace Corps alumnus.
One of whom permitted me use of his futon while I passed through. Conveniently, he studies Geographic Information Systems (GIS), meaning he lays out maps and focuses on spatial relationships.
Even after the tutorial, I cannot grasp the layout of Baltimore. Maybe if I had spent more time in Pigtown, one of many historic neighborhoods, where pig owners walked their swine down cobblestone avenues to slaughterhouses. No, this description is not a ploy to encourage vegetarianism.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, a screw does not function well as a pencil sharpener.