Baltimore Working in partnership with a local health-care provider, Enterprise Homes, Inc., has completed the fourth phase of a major housing and revitalization project that has added 29 affordable apartments through the renovation of 14 historic row houses. The project includes an extensive array of services for a low-income population that includes many single mothers.

Bon Secours Chesapeake Apartments joins 90 other restored units that have transformed five formerly rundown, largely vacant city blocks surrounding the Bon Secours Hospital into a lively, thriving neighborhood.

Enterprise Homes and Unity Properties – the housing arm of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System – jointly developed the $3.6 million project. It was completed and leased-up in December 2004.

The developers preserved the three-story row houses’ architecturally significant brick façades and installed new windows and doors that were consistent with the character of the originals. The buildings’ interiors were gutted and rehabilitated to add two one-bedroom, 13 two-bedroom and 13 three-bedroom apartments, plus one four-bedroom unit.

Thirteen units serve households earning no more than 30% of the area median income (AMI), 11 serve households earning no more than 40% of AMI and five units serve households earning no more than 50% of AMI. Two units were designed and reserved for those with physical disabilities, and two units were designed and reserved for those with hearing or visual impairments.

To meet the development costs while keeping rents affordable for very low income individuals and families, the developers relied largely on $1.9 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity. Enterprise Social Investment Corp. purchased the credits for 77 cents per dollar of tax credit.

“The project was in a qualified census tract, which made a huge difference – as it always does – in generating additional tax credit equity for the project,” said Christine Madigan, vice president of Enterprise Homes.

The financing package also included $1 million in two loans from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Rental Housing Funds program, a $600,000 city HOME loan, and a $101,500 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Program.

Provider-financed services for residents include Head Start day care, health education, GED preparation with child care, job training and readiness programs, and credit and homebuying counseling. Provided through a unique partnership among the hospital, community groups and public agencies, all services are offered in a community center constructed during the first phase of the revitalization plan.

The result is a palpable lift in the atmosphere of the Bon Secours area.

Just 10 years ago, 60% of the row houses lay vacant, and the rest belonged to absentee landlords, said George Kleb, executive director of Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation.

“Before, those blocks were largely abandoned. On a nice early summer evening, you would see virtually no one on the street,” he explained. “Now, you see kids out front playing games, people sitting on their stoops talking, and folks coming home from work. There’s life in that neighborhood that wasn’t there before.”

“It transformed the neighborhood,” agreed Madigan. “By focusing on that one neighborhood and building on each previous phase, we have seen a real difference in the stabilization of the community.”

Bon Secours Chesapeake Apartments

Developers:Unity Properties, Inc., and Enterprise Homes, Inc.

Number of units: 29

Number of affordable units: 29

Unique feature: These apartments are the fourth phase of a major housing and revitalization project spread over five blocks.

Key sources of financing

Equity from 9% low-income housing tax credits provided by Enterprise Social Investment Corp.: $1.9 million

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Rental Housing Funds (one $714,981 loan at 1% for 40 years; a second $285,019 loan at 4% for 40 years): $1 million

City HOME loan for 40 years at 5.21%: $600,000

Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta Affordable Housing Program grant throughSunTrust Bank: $101,500

Total development cost: $3.6 million