PPNA Community Meeting Monday, March 11

Join us Monday, March 11 at 7:00pm (Doors open at 6:45 for socializing before the meeting) in the basement of St Elizabeth’s Church on Baltimore and Lakewood.

Meet your neighbors and learn how we can make our community an even better place. This month we will focus on greening efforts.  We will announce our Spring beautification project, Bloom Your Block, and hear from speakers from Retrofit Baltimore and Sungevity solar panel leasing.

Save Money on Your Electric Bills and Go Solar!

Join the rooftop revolution — and save money in the process! — by putting words into action and making the choice to go solar. By joining this movement, you have the potential to reap triple benefits for you, the environment and for PPNA.

We are partnering with the innovative solar company Sungevity to raise money for our neighborhood while improving your bottom line. By sending Sungevity a request for an iQuote , you will immediately be connected with a solar specialist who will help you understand if your house is eligible to be powered by the sun. And if you go solar through this program, you’ll get a $750 credit from Sungevity.

It’s actually pretty simple. Sungevity has created the most affordable way to go solar with no money down and low monthly payments that will replace your current electricity bill – with up to a 15% reduction in costs. You simply lease solar panels for your roof and for every home that PPNA helps go solar, we receive a $750 donation from Sungevity. To date, Sungevity has donated over one million dollars to nonprofit organizations who partnered with them in this program!

In the end, you could end up having your home powered by solar for less than you were paying in electricity bills before, plus, Sungevity will also give you a personal $750 credit towards your system combined with a donation of $750 for PPNA. How’s that for a win-win situation?

Sungevity is an innovative solar provider that is democratizing clean energy by making it simple, efficient, and affordable for all homeowners to use solar power. With its unique online iQuote process and Solar Lease, Sungevity has helped thousands of satisfied customers across the country free themselves from the ever-rising cost of traditional electricity while significantly lowering their carbon footprint. There’s never been a better time to join the Rooftop Revolution, and Sungevity is making it easier than ever.

Join PPNA in the solar movement. Send in for an iQuote today and start the process of getting clean, affordable solar energy for your home.

Click here for more information

PPNA Meeting Monday February 11, 7pm

This month’s PPNA meeting is Monday, February 11 at 7pm in the basement of St. Elizabeth’s Church on Baltimore Street at Lakewood. We are sad to hear of the passing of our good friend and neighbor Ginny Dobry. We will be honoring Ginny at our meeting and be discussing the fund her family has set up to benefit PPNA in her honor.

Our new board and committee chairs are excited to start working on new projects (as well as continue everyone’s favorites – like the Gala, Bloom Your Block, and Park After Dark), and we want to let all our neighbors know we’re here to help you solve the problems that come up from time to time in city life. So bring your question with you to the meeting – whether it’s about getting trees on your block, bad neighbors causing a disturbance, or a safety issue, please come and let us know. We all believe we are here to help.

In addition to discussing the board’s agenda for the year, the Baltimore City Fire Department will be out to give a quick safety talk, the Baltimore Neighborhood Energy Challenge will be with us to discuss how we can continue to be Baltimore’s greenest and most sustainable neighborhood, and Chi Yan will give us an update on real estate in the area!

We look forward to seeing you all there, but most importantly, please bring a friend or neighbor. We want to let as many people as possible know what we’re up to, and that we’re here to help!

Ginny Dobry, 1933-2013

Lifelong Patterson Park resident and activist Virginia (“Ginny”) Dobry passed away peacefully in her sleep February 3rd at home.

Ginny’s family recently set up an online journal with information and thoughts from friends and neighbors: caringbridge.org/visit/virginiadobry. Friends are encouraged to continue posting thoughts and wishes for the Dobry family.

Ginny was a much-beloved life-long resident of Patterson Park, as well as an important neighborhood leader and activist. She raised her family with her late husband, Dan, in her two-story rowhome on Kenwood Avenue, where she lived since 1956. In more recent years, she was known for the welcome packages she baked for new residents of the neighborhood, her participation on the board of Banner Neighborhoods, and her continued activism and advocacy for Patterson Park.

Her family asks that in lieu of any flowers or other gifts, please donate to the Virginia Dobry Community Programs Fund, which honors Ginny and her decades-long engagement in Patterson Park, her commitment to making new neighbors feel welcome, and her efforts to make our neighborhood the best place it can be.

Arrangements for viewing have been set for February 6th and 7th at Lilly and Zeiler Funeral Home, 700 S. Conkling Street, 3-5 and 7-9 both days. Parking is available on the Sacred Heart church lot.

The funeral will be on Friday, February 8th at 11am at St. Elizabeth’s Church, East Baltimore Street and N.Lakewood Ave.

Patterson Park among City’s hottest neighborhoods for 2013

From the Baltimore Sun, January 24
By Steve Kilar

Among Baltimore’s neighborhoods, the hip community of Hampden is forecast to see the most home value appreciation this year, according to data-driven real estate search website Zillow.

Home values in that North Baltimore district should see a 4.2 percent increase over the next 12 months, according to a report the firm recently released. Zillow considers an annual appreciation of about 3 percent to be the national norm.

Locust Point and Highlandtown are tied for second place in the Baltimore forecast. Zillow estimates that values in those neighborhoods will increase 4.1 percent by the end of the year.

In addition to Highlandtown, several other neighborhoods surrounding Patterson Park — Ellwood Park/Monument, the Patterson Park Neighborhood, Upper Fells Point and Butchers Hill — are among the forecast’s top 10.

Other neighborhoods in the top 10, all predicted to appreciate at 3.3 percent or more, are Washington Village/Pigtown, Mount Vernon and Remington.

As a group, metro Baltimore’s homes are forecast to increase in value 1.4 percent this year, according to Zillow.

“Nationally, home values are projected to increase 3.3 percent over the next year,” Zillow’s report said.

Baltimore’s home values bottomed out in the first quarter of last year — one quarter later than the nation as a whole, which has now had five consecutive quarters of home value appreciation, Zillow said.

Home values in metro Baltimore just returned to levels last seen in December 2004, the firm’s report said.

City announces down payment assistance program

From the Baltimore Sun, January 7, 2013 —

Wells Fargo is offering eligible homebuyers in Baltimore a $15,000 down-payment assistance loan that is fully forgivable if the purchaser lives in the home for five years — part of a legal settlement over alleged discriminatory lending practices by the bank.

“2013 promises to be the best year ever to buy a home in Baltimore city,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at a new conference Monday morning in City Hall to announce the initiative.

The new $4.5 million program, a large enough pot of money to help individuals purchase 300 homes, adds to an already robust set of incentives to buy a home in Baltimore. If the Wells Fargo funds are combined with the other city homebuying inducements — including the Vacants to Value booster program and the Live Near Your Work incentive — a potential homebuyer could have tens of thousands of dollars to put toward buying a home.

The first $1 million — enough for 67 homes — became available Jan. 2. The remaining funds will be distributed to qualified buyers at a two-day event that will take place in early April.

All of the funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore Inc., which is collaborating with Wells Fargo to administer the program.

Called CityLIFT, the program was established as part of a $175 million settlement last year between the U.S. Department of Justice and Wells Fargo. CityLIFT funds also are being made available in several other cities that were hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, including Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia and Oakland, Calif.

The government accused the bank of discriminating against African-American and Latino borrowers between 2004 and 2009. Black and Latino borrowers were more likely than whites to receive a subprime mortgage — a higher-cost loan intended for borrowers with poor credit — from the bank during that period even if they should have qualified for better loan terms, the Justice Department said.

Baltimore, a leader in the discrimination case against Wells Fargo, was allocated $7.5 million of the settlement funds. The $3 million that is not going toward down-payment assistance through CityLIFT is being divided between the payment of litigation expenses and a to-be-determined foreclosure-related program, according to City Solicitor George Nilson.

The city requested proposals for the use of the remaining settlement funds from a handful of legal services and housing organizations, Nilson said. He expects a decision about how that money is going to be used by early February, he said.

“We’re looking for uses where modest amounts of money could be the most help,” he said of the surplus settlement dollars.

In Baltimore, borrowers are eligible for a CityLIFT loan if their household income is 120 percent or less of the area median income. That is about $72,000 for an individual and $103,000 for a family of four. Household income is calculated using all income earned by people 18 and older living in the home after purchase.

Purchasers must use a loan from a lender that has been invited to participate in the program. Wells Fargo, First Mariner Bank, First Home Mortgage and Prospect Mortgage are among the participating lenders.

An applicant for the loan is not required to be a first-time homebuyer, but if the applicant currently owns a home, it must be sold before the closing on the new house. In fact, to qualify, the applicant cannot own any additional properties, including investment properties, according to Neighborhood Housing Services.

The new home must be used as an owner-occupied primary residence and must be within Baltimore’s city limits. In addition to single-family detached homes, condos, townhouses and buildings with one to three rental units (in addition to the owner’s primary residence) are eligible for the Wells Fargo loan.

“It is required you participate in an eight-hour housing counseling program” administered by a counseling agency approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Dan Ellis, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services.

In Baltimore, those agencies include Ellis’ group, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, the Greater Baltimore Urban League and several neighborhood-focused community development organizations.

The CityLIFT loans charge no interest. Twenty percent of the loan is forgiven each year the purchaser remains in the home, until it is fully forgiven in the fifth year. If the home is sold or not owner-occupied before the end of the five-year period, the prorated balance is due immediately.

In other cities where the program has been launched, funds were allocated only through a conference-style meeting, said Ken Strong, Baltimore’s deputy commission for green, healthy and sustainable homes. But organizing a large convention can take months, so city officials negotiated with Wells Fargo to have $1 million made available at the beginning of the year, he said.

“We’d be missing these critical three months” of home sales, Strong said, if the city waited until a convention could be organized.

Until April, only applicants who have completed a homebuyer counseling class, received a pre-approved mortgage from a CityLIFT lender and signed a sales contract are eligible to participate in the program, Ellis said.

These requirements will not be necessary to register for the two-day event in April, where potential homebuyers will be able to meet with mortgage consultants, sign up for homebuyer education programs and take part in a tour of homes for sale. Registration for the April event, scheduled for the 5th and 6th, will open in March and be coordinated by Neighborhood Housing Services.

More information about the program is available from Neighborhood Housing Services at http://nhsbaltimore.com/citylift and Wells Fargo at www.wellsfargo.com/citylift.