If it doesn’t work even once, double the asking price and apply under a different mayor.
The scheme has proven winners for well-connected nonprofits that have raised millions of dollars of public funding to transform run-down West Baltimore townhouses into community resource and wellness centers. increase.
Elizabeth S. Glenn, President of Bethel Outreach Center Inc.
“I am very excited about this,” adds former Baltimore mayor and former co-chair Sheila Dixon, who is now an unpaid board member. “It will make a real difference for those in need.”
The proposed center will provide residents of Upton, one of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods, with a safe and neutral way to connect with public and private service providers for their food, housing, prenatal care, employment and banking needs. Advertised as a great space.
“This is an opportunity to put policy into action, an opportunity to speak our money,” explains Glenn.
money withdrawn in 2020
Yesterday, the Estimates Commission approved a $1.25 million construction grant to the group, an affiliate of the Bethel AME Church. The Bethel AME Church secured an unbidden city estate and donated a sprawling townhouse on McCullough Street to a non-profit organization after it became uninhabitable.
Two years ago, a $600,000 interest-free loan for the same project was suspended. Brew I asked if the money was being used properly.
The housing department later admitted that loans drawn from the city’s affordable housing fund could not be used to install soaring glass atriums, elevator upgrades and other non-residential infrastructure on the Bethel site. .
Dixon’s group had been promised construction costs by former mayor Catherine Pugh, a member of the Bethel Church, Dixon said at the time.
Dixon expressed surprise when told the money was coming from a program specifically designed for affordable housing, saying, “Why did they choose that money for the loan? you have to ask them.
Affiliated to the Bethel AME Church, this non-profit organization has few financial resources of its own.
The loan drawn was one of the last acts of Mayor Jack Young’s administration in November 2020. The building has remained empty since then.
(The new roof and windows are the product of state grants and the 2016 Legislative Bond Act totaling $575,000.)
The $1.25 million from the Scott administration is from American Rescue Planning Act (ARPA) funds allocated to help Baltimore recover from the Covid-19 public health emergency.
The nonprofit says both it and the community have been hit hard by Covid and need funding to “lead the revitalization of Upton, including its recovery from the pandemic.”
The allocation, which includes $234,000 for a glass atrium and $75,000 for board member Jules Dunham-Howie to coordinate renovations, would pay less than half the building’s projected cost.
Four other public sources are available.
• $1.25 million from the Maryland Seed Community Development Anchor Institution Fund, submitted by the Maryland Institution College of the Arts (MICA) on behalf of the Outreach Center.
• $700,000 in bonds secured by State Senator Antonio Hayes (D-40).
• $100,000 from the State Commission on African American History and Culture (maximum grant by the Commission).
• $251,000 in a congressional-led appropriation request (earmark) from Senator Ben Cardin.
Even with these subsidies, construction could go over budget due to inflation, material shortages and complex supply chains, Glenn warned in an interview.
“We are hopeful because it is hope that has supported this project so far.” – President of Bethel Outreach Center.
Within the building’s 20,000 square feet, Bethel will house the Upton Planning Commission, Upton Westside CDC and common spaces for community meetings.
A mini bank branch, dance studio, prenatal programs, an art gallery with MICA programs, a café with a teaching kitchen and a drop-in health referral center are planned.
Rent from office tenants is expected to bring in $100,000 in annual revenue, not enough to cover ongoing operating expenses. Additional resources are needed to cover rent payments, especially given the group’s technical ambitions.
“The building will be a state-of-the-art technology facility with enhanced security systems and SMART technology throughout,” says the application to the Scott administration.
The Harry and Janet Weinberg Foundation has been asked to cover the cost of decorating and furnishing the common areas, and the group has provided the French Merrick Foundation with $300,000 to install security systems, green technology and navigator systems. applied for.
Nonprofits have few financial resources of their own, so they need all that funding.
The March 2022 balance sheet, filed as part of the application for ARPA funding, shows cash on hand totaling $32,947, with an additional $18,100 held by the Bethel AME Church.
These assets were offset by liabilities of $136,800. This includes his over $15,000 owed to the Bethel Church, his $67,000 to two consultants, and his $54,000 to an architect.
Aside from a recent $50,000 grant from M&T Bank, the center includes Baltimore businesses, a Bethel church pastor, two rabbis, half a dozen nonprofit executives, and developers like you. We receive very few donations from our volunteer committee of 25+ members. As Zed Smith of The Cordish Companies and Larry Rosenberg of The Mark Building Co. and Cross Street Partners.
With construction not expected to be complete until the end of 2023, Glenn expects more financial hurdles to come before the Bethel Empowerment and Wellness Center opens.
“We are hopeful because it is hope that has supported this project so far,” she said.