Enterprise Community Partners to Help Baltimore Houses of Worship Build 600 Affordable Homes

$500,000 grant from Wells Fargo Foundation will transform underutilized property owned by faith-based organizations into affordable housing
Jul 18, 2022 9:35 AM ET
Press Release

BALTIMORE, July 18, 2022 /3BL Media/ - Today Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) announced an expansion of its Faith-Based Development Initiative(FBDI) in Baltimore which helps houses of worship convert underutilized land into affordable homes. The program, which is supported by $500,000 in grant funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation, will provide training, technical assistance and predevelopment grants to 12 houses of worship working to address the affordable housing shortage in their communities.

The expansion of FBDI was announced during a "clarion call" at Wayland Village Senior Apartments, an affordable housing community created in 2011 by Wayland Baptist Church in collaboration with Enterprise Community Development.

Baltimore is part of a nationwide expansion of Enterprise’s Faith-Based Development Initiative, supported by a $8.5 million donation from Wells Fargo. Acquiring land presents a major barrier to affordable housing production. Nationwide, faith-based organizations own tens of thousands of acres of unused or underutilized land. Through this initiative, houses of worship will receive access to financial assistance, training and resources to help them convert underutilized land they own into affordable homes for members of their communities.

“Since launching the Faith-Based Development Initiative in 2006, again and again we’ve seen firsthand the powerful role that faith-based organizations can play in developing affordable housing,” said Rev. David Bowers, vice president of Enterprise’s Mid-Atlantic Market and senior advisor for the Faith-Based Development Initiative. “We look forward to working with faith leaders from across the City of Baltimore to help their houses of worship make a meaningful difference in their communities by creating safe and affordable places to live.”

“Many faith leaders are energized to be a solution to the affordable housing dilemma in Baltimore, and we heard today from two local houses of worship – Gillis Memorial Christian Church and Ames Memorial United Methodist Church – about their ongoing work to provide more than 90 affordable homes for their communities,” said Rev. Joseph K. Williams, Sr., senior program director and manager of the FBDI program in Enterprise’s Mid-Atlantic Market.

“We’re grateful to be a part of this movement that is paving new avenues for the creation of more quality affordable homes that will make a real difference in opening up economic opportunity for people in Baltimore and across the nation,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, Wells Fargo’s head of housing affordability philanthropy. “As community anchors, houses of worship are at the center of so many lives and working together, we can bring a whole new level of innovation to the housing supply challenge.”

Enterprise’s Faith-Based Development Initiative first started in the Mid-Atlantic region in 2006, where it has helped create or preserve more than 1,500 affordable homes and one community-based health clinic, with thousands of homes now in the development pipeline. From 2016 to 2021, Enterprise teamed with the University of Baltimore to provide development training to local houses of worship. This new $500,000 program builds on that foundation and puts housing development on a faster track.

"The work that Enterprise Community Partners is doing with houses of worship in Baltimore city makes us that much stronger and that much more self-assured that success is there for the taking," said Baltimore Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy. "Together, we'll be able to transform neighborhoods and strengthen efforts to meet the affordable housing needs of our residents."

Faith-based organizations participating in the program will gain access to:

  • Funding: Support for market/feasibility studies and pre-development activities
  • Training: Virtual and in-person trainings to help participants understand the ins and outs of the development process
  • Technical assistance and tools: One-on-one technical assistance to help overcome obstacles during the development process, as well as access to informational tools and resources
  • Access to experts: Introductions to information on development partners, such as architects and designers, real estate lawyers and development consultants
  • Peer-to-peer learning: Geographic cohorts of faith-based organizations will network and learn from one another as they go through the process of housing development, and a national summit will bring faith leaders from across the country together to advance program learnings and celebrate successes.

About Enterprise Community Partners

Enterprise is a national nonprofit that exists to make a good home possible for the millions of families without one. We support community development organizations on the ground, aggregate and invest capital for impact, advance housing policy at every level of government, and build and manage communities ourselves. Since 1982, we have invested $54 billion and created 873,000 homes across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – all to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging. Join us at enterprisecommunity.org.