A new apartment building in West Baltimore’s Upton neighborhood was full of smiling faces on the morning of Tuesday, October 24: Three residents had just signed leases, received keys and moved into their new homes at Sojourner Place at Argyle.
Opening the door to his apartment after a long stretch of bumping among shelters, Silas Johnson grinned ear-to-ear.
“It’s going to change a lot,” he said. “Peace of mind. Being able to focus on other things in life instead of where you’re going to stay…”
With brick siding, a yard complete with rose beds and 12 units fully outfitted with housekeeping essentials and furniture, Sojourner represents a huge shift—and huge possibilities—for its new residents. All single adults who have experienced chronic homelessness, Johnson and his neighbors are transitioning from tents and shelters to permanent supportive housing with onsite supportive services.
“I’m thrilled. It’s a new start for me and my life and I’m grateful to have it,” said Jimmy Tyson, another of the first three residents to move into Sojourner on October 25.
Two days later, on October 26, two more residents moved in. Four more moved in the following week, and others will occupy the remaining units throughout the fall.
Enjoy a video and photo gallery of move-in day.
A true partnership
Sojourner Place at Argyle has been in the works for three years and is the result of a partnership spanning a range of private-sector and non-profit organizations.
In 2015, Episcopal Housing Corp. purchased six adjacent lots in the 1400 block of Argyle Avenue from the City of Baltimore through the city’s Vacants-to-Value program. It secured the support of the Upton Planning Committee for a permanent supportive housing complex and set out to raise $2.2 million in construction funding from the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.
As Episcopal broke ground on the building in April, 2017, Health Care for the Homeless worked to screen, refer and place people in the new units. All 12 of the residents moving into Sojourner have received health care and supportive services at Health Care for the Homeless, and the agency will continue to provide them with onsite supportive services at Sojourner five days a week.
Lastly, United Way outfitted the units with bedding, linens, cleaning supplies and pantry essentials. And on October 24, property manager Towner Management Co. Inc. welcomed its first residents.
The possibilities of community
Sojourner—the first brand new development of its kind in Baltimore City—provides permanent supportive housing for individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness: permanent housing with onsite supportive services for adults who have struggled with a range of health challenges while living in shelters and on the street for extended periods of time. This approach has been proven to work—and we at Health Care for the Homeless have seen it firsthand. In 2005, we partnered with Baltimore City to place 30 people without homes into private apartments and provided intense supportive services. A year later, all of the participants were still housed and experiencing improved health, and the model was expanded.
“It’s taken the entire community to make this possible,” said Health Care for the Homeless President and CEO Kevin Lindamood. “And if the entire community can do this, it can do a lot more of this.”