On World Habitat Day, Monday, October 3, 2011 at 4:30 p.m., an anticipated 300 individuals will gather on Clay Street in Annapolis to celebrate the dedication of eleven new homes built by Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. The deserving homeowners will be receiving keys to their new homes from Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen and other dignitaries from the City of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and the State of Maryland during this festive celebration. The public is invited to attend the dedication and open houses immediately following the dedication ceremony.
Prospective Habitat homeowners fulfill 250-350 hours of “sweat equity” through work on the construction site, at the Habitat office and at the Habitat ReStores. They participate in at least 50 hours of fiscal literacy and “Homeownership 101” classes to prepare them for being a successful homeowner in this revitalized area of Annapolis.
In a town steeped in history, Clay Street has a particularly rich and compelling story that dates back to the mid-eighteenth century. Once a vibrant and thriving community, Clay Street was home to boat builders, business leaders and professionals in the African American community.
At one time, Clay Street was known as the “Harlem” of the mid-Atlantic—home to jazz and comedy clubs featuring legends such as Pearl Bailey who performed there on a regular basis.
Hard times came to Clay Street as a result of the urban renewal programs of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The construction of College Creek Terrace, one of the country’s oldest public housing projects, is often blamed for the eventual decline of Clay Street’s commercial center and compromised its strong sense of community.
In 1999, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake joined members of the area’s faith community and Clay Street area residents to begin restoration of the region. The Habitat affiliate purchased deteriorating properties along Clay Street, renovated or rebuilt them, and then sold the Habitat houses at a no-interest mortgage to deserving families committed to the neighborhood’s revitalization.
Between 1999 and 2007, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake built or renovated 12 houses in the community. The Habitat homeowners who moved onto Clay Street have helped bring stability and strength to the community as they support the revival of Clay Street.
Habitat’s work prompted the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis (HACA) to invite the organization to take part in a multi-partner project to “reinvent public housing” in Annapolis. Habitat was awarded land to build 11 new “green” Energy Star certified houses for homeownership.
The Clay Street project provides residents with a clear and compelling pathway out of the former intergenerational cycle of poverty that over overwhelm public housing residents. Habitat’s Clay Street Project brings innovation, commitment and a new focus on hope for many generations to come.
For more information about qualifying for home ownership in the Habitat for Humanity program, please contact Anne Rouse, 410.366.1250 x120. For volunteer opportunities or donations, call 410.366.1250 or visit www.habitatchesapeake.org.