Following nearly a year of planning and community meetings, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) is preparing to relocate 102 families from a section of one of its older and most challenging sites, Gilmor Homes. The structures, known as the “walk-ups”, will be demolished in order to make the site safer for the remaining residents and the wider Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. Residents, who have been kept up to date on the plan, received letters on February 25 saying the move-outs would begin in May.
The six walk-up buildings with 132 units at Gilmor Homes, located on Spray Court, Vincent Court and Bruce Court, present particular challenges due to their physical condition and the obstacles to visibility they represent. Demolition of these buildings will open up the site, making it difficult for illegal activity to be concealed. HABC anticipates that it will create an improved living environment for the remaining families of Gilmor Homes and have a significant impact on the surrounding area. HABC intends to meet with the remaining residents sometime this year to discuss the temporary use of the vacant land.
“This is only a short-term solution to address residents’ concerns over safety,” said HABC Executive Director Janet Abrahams. “We are reducing the density of the property; however our longer-term intention is to come back and work with the community on a more strategic approach to redeveloping this property.”
After this demolition, the approximately 600-unit complex in West Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood will have 475 townhomes remaining HABC will make some capital investments in the townhomes like new windows and lighting.
HABC will pay the relocation expenses for the 102 families who will be moving. The agency has hired a relocation specialist who has conducted a one-on-one counseling sessions with each household and also provides assistance with securing new places to live. Once everyone has moved out, demolition will immediately follow, with planning and design for the site taking place over the next 18 months.
“The families who reside in Baltimore’s public housing communities are our top priority, and we have a vested interest in helping to keep the neighborhoods they live in safe and secure,” Abrahams said. “We are focused on creating quality affordable housing but this effort is about more than just Gilmor. It’s about the neighborhood. Tearing down these buildings is a start but there is a lot of work ahead to transform Sandtown-Winchester. We will be working closely with the City and the community on the most appropriate solutions.”