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Md. community founded by freed slaves to get affordable housing upgrades

‘I can already see that happening,’ says Chickie Grayson of the prospect of widespread housing that blends market-rate and affordable units. ‘But it’s going to take a long time.’ (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

“Modernizing these 75 homes – renovating and keeping them affordable – will be another critical element in preserving a strong community,” says Enterprise Homes CEO and President Chickie Grayson. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

A joint venture including Enterprise Homes has closed financing for the $14.5 million renovation of 75 affordable housing units outside of Washington.

The soon-to-be renovated townhomes are located in the Scotland community in Montgomery County, which dates back to the 1880s when it was founded by freed slaves.

Enterprise Homes, Scotland Community Development Inc. and the National Development Council plan to rehab 75 townhomes by the end of next year. Planned upgrades to the units include new heating systems, remodeling bathrooms and creating more open space in some of the units.

“This much-needed rehabilitation will make a significant difference in the lives of 75 households, many of whom have lived here for generations,” Iris Neal, SCDI’s president said in a statement. “Our partners at Enterprise Homes and NDC, as well as in county and state government, are helping us simultaneously preserve our traditions and modernize our homes.”

The affordable housing units are available for a mix of incomes from residents making 30 percent to 60 percent of the area median income. Renovations are being made possible via Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Christine Madigan, Enterprise Homes’ executive vice president, said rents for units could be increased or decreased to meet the requirements of the tax credit program.

A report released by the Urban Institute in August of 2016 found an insufficient housing supply in the Washington region. According to to that study, more than 33 percent of households in the D.C. region pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Renters are even worse off, with 46 percent of residents who don’t own homes paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent. More than 22 percent of renters are paying at least half of their income in rent, according to the study.

Scotland Community Development Inc. has owned the land since the 1960s when suburban development threatened the community.

At that time the Scotland Community Development Inc. began to develop the property with the intent of operating as an affordable community.

Starting in 2015, Scotland Community Development Inc. approached the National Development Council for technical assistance on the rehab process. Using a request for proposal process, Enterprise Homes was selected as a development partner.

Financing for the project comes from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Montgomery County, Bank of America and Enterprise Community Investment.

“Enterprise Homes is proud to help Scotland Community take the next step in its long history of providing opportunity to low- and moderate-income families,” said Chickie Grayson, president & CEO of Enterprise Homes. “Scotland Community’s location in Montgomery County provides great connections to resources vital to opportunity, such as transportation, jobs and education. Modernizing these 75 homes – renovating and keeping them affordable – will be another critical element in preserving a strong community.”

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