James Fillyaw, who was instrumental in the creation of the equity-focused tech coalition Baltimore Tracks, is bringing that same energy to the real estate business with The Fillyaw Group, a Baltimore-based housing and development company committed to bridging the homeownership gap for middle class and working class communities.
After his mother’s passing during the pandemic, Fillyaw felt it was time to make his dreams a reality. So he launched The Fillyaw Group to bring affordable housing to middle class families.
“There was a trigger of, Jay, you gotta do something with that love, that void that she gave you, that passion, and you have to drive on a purpose,” said Fillyaw. “And I thought about my journey of being homeless, getting into the hotel industry, getting offered a job to be personal assistant to a government executive, and I went through the steppingstones of life. I put all of that together and thought real estate.”
The company will build homes that are compact, yet feel big. They will price in the $235K-$250K range so they can remain affordable. Through his journey in life, Fillyaw has gone from experiencing homeless and working minimum wage to living at 414 Light Street in downtown Baltimore and working at local digital health company b.well Connected Health.
“There’s people that can experience what I do at 414 that don’t have to make over six figures,” said Fillyaw. “All that has to happen is the company has to take less money to be able to provide the average American with a suitable and sustainable life. The problem is that most companies don’t want to do that. They want all the money.”
The Fillyaw Group has already purchased 12 acres outside of Baltimore city, in the Bel Air area. On that land, the company will build a development with 16 single-family homes, a residential pool, fitness center, dog park, and residential loaner vehicle. It is currently fielding bids from architecture firms, and will have a design by June. Fillyaw expects to break ground in early 2022, and have the first home built by spring of 2022.
“We really want to take less money and build compact housing communities for new college students, single parents, with barriers they have to overcome because they don’t make enough money,” said Fillyaw. “Consumers will no longer have to lower their quality of living or max their financial threshold just to be able to afford a home.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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