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Baltimore To Use Federal Housing Grants To Recover From Foreclosures

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By Cathy Duchamp

Baltimore will use $26 million in federal housing grants to help middle-income neighborhoods recover from the home foreclosure crisis.

Mark Sissman runs Healthy Neighborhoods Inc, the Baltimore non-profit that will distribute federal money to buy, renovate and resell vacant or foreclosed homes. But Sissman isn't targeting Baltimore's hardest-hit neighborhoods.

"Building on the strongest blocks first, instead of the weakest. Having partners who agree that appreciation is a good thing," says Sissman. "That's different thinking than the traditional public sector programs where you gravitate to the toughest buildings in the poorest neighborhoods."

Sissman says marketing working class neighborhoods to young professionals and families will help rebuild Baltimore's property tax base, and in turn, stabilize the city as a whole. He expects banks will be ready to make deals to unload foreclosed properties in exchange for the hard cash the federal grants provide.

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