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Check out Parity’s first rehabbed homes as it tackles blight in Baltimore’s Black Butterfly

"It may sound audacious, but we are aiming high and setting our sights on achieving remarkable results," founder and CEO Bree Jones said.

(L to R) Bree Jones, CEO & founder of Parity; new homeowners Ako Boyd and Modinat Sanni; and State Sen. Antonio Hayes. (Courtesy photo)

With strong community backing and significant capital, a visionary Black woman and her organization seek to transform the future of housing and wealth-building in Baltimore.

Set in motion via a block party and tree planting in 2021, Parity last week unveiled its first two rehabilitated homes in the Harlem Park neighborhood. The reception celebrated new homeowners Ako Boyd and Modinat Sanni as well as foreshadowed the organization’s plans for significant change. Parity was founded by Bree Jones, whose “small but mighty team” of five got hired after a $2 million catalytic grant from JPMorgan Chase.

“Our success lies in the widespread buy-in to our ideas,” explained Jones, the organization’s CEO, in a phone interview with Technical.ly. “Despite the perception that Baltimore City is undesirable, we’ve discovered a growing number of people who love and want to stay in the city.”

“In the coming years, we aim to continue scaling our production of homes,” Johnes added. “Our goal is to become a production home builder capable of completing 200 homes per year.”

Bree Jones addressing and audience at the ribbon cutting for the newly rehabbed homes. (Courtesy photo)

Jones ultimately seeks to scale the organization’s capacity to build 200 homes every year, including a total of five before 2023 concludes.

“It may sound audacious, but we are aiming high and setting our sights on achieving remarkable results,” she said.

The TED Fellow, who delivered a TED Talk on Parity’s creation last fall, further highlighted the uniqueness of their endeavor, stating: “To my knowledge, there isn’t another company that has successfully achieved such a scale of two homes per year in the inner city infill. The intricacies and challenges of rowhome construction make it a complex endeavor. While it may be relatively easier to build in flat suburban areas, we are committed to pushing boundaries and making a significant impact in urban communities.”

Parity, headquartered in West Baltimore, primarily focuses on historically redlined neighborhoods. Jones alludes to the pervasive nature of redlining in Baltimore and its impact on the city’s spatial dynamics, which scholar Lawrence Brown famously refers to as “The White L and the Black Butterfly.”

“We understand that historically, Black individuals have faced challenges in accessing suitable financing options, which is why our homebuyers receive personalized guidance,” said Jones. “So we have a dedicated team in place to support our homebuyers throughout the entire process. Our Homebuyer Success Manager, who previously worked as a loan officer for a decade, is well-versed in navigating the complex and often intimidating mortgage procedures.”

She emphasized that none of this progress would have been possible without crucial policy changes, including an appraisal capital bill that she said recently got Gov. Wes Moore’s signature.

“This legislation enables us to develop a state plan focused on reducing the appraisal gap — the difference between the cost of rehabilitating vacant homes and their affordable sales price or appraised value,” she explained. “In West Baltimore, where restoring spacious homes requires significant investment, this appraisal gap poses challenges for banks and homebuyers alike. The bill includes provisions for infrastructure costs and garnered support from Senator Antonio Hayes, Delegate Marlon D. Amprey, State Comptroller Brooke Lierman and other stakeholders.”

Jones also highlighted other partners like JPMorgan Chase and its Baltimore-bred philanthropic managing director Alicia Wilson, as well as Bank of America, Abell Foundation, Truist, PNC and Kaiser Permanente — all of whom provided support at different points of access for Parity customers.

Going forward, with Director of Strategic Initiatives Imani Yasin’s guidance and strategic vision, Jones aims to extend Parity’s reach beyond Harlem Park. Recognizing the need for substantial capital mobilization at the state level to achieve equity nationwide, the organization is sowing the seeds today for a future that unfolds over the next decade. Parity’s expansion plans encompass diverse West Baltimore neighborhoods, including Mondawmin, Coppin Heights, Sandtown-Winchester, Carrollton Ridge and Edmondson. Jones anticipates the establishment of a permitting agency and the creation of a land bank to support the realization of these goals.

Until then, check out photos from the development and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first homes.

In-process shot of the newly rehabbed homes on North Carrollton Ave in the Harlem Park neighborhood. (Courtesy photo)

New Harlem Park neighborhood resident Modinat Sanni entering her new home. (Courtesy photo)

Bree Jones, CEO & founder of Parity, addressing an audience at the ribbon-cutting for the newly rehabbed homes. (Courtesy photo)

New Harlem Park neighborhood resident Ako Boyd looking up at the new Parity developments in Harlem Park. (Courtesy photo)

Companies: Parity

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