NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Baltimore Vouchers Attract Homeowners

March 7, 1997

A private foundation is trying to revive and improve an inner-city Baltimore neighborhood through a unique experiment: families that buy one of the area's 2,000 row houses which are being renovated can receive free tuition at the local Catholic school for nine years.

  • The Abell Foundation is putting up enough money for 20 families to take advantage of the offer to send their children to St. Elizabeth of Hungary school.
  • Normal tuition at the school -- which now has fewer than half the 444 students it had six years ago -- is $2,325 a year.
  • Prices for the renovated houses range from $38,000 to $60,000, and below-market interest rates are being made to qualified buyers.

Since the tuition offer was announced in January, more than 140 people have made inquiries and the first sale contract has been signed.

The neighborhood had been a victim of middle-class flight to the suburbs and the houses were being turned into low-income rental units.

Potential buyers see this as a way to give their children an education far superior to what they would get in public schools, while gaining home ownership and living in a neighborhood that is on its way back up. Organizers hope it helps reverse a downward cycle: middle class families move to the suburbs, the poor who replace them pay lower taxes and make greater demands on city services, tax rates go up on the remaining middle class workers forcing them to leave.

Source: Lori Sharn, "Baltimore 2-for-1 Deal Fights Urban Decline," USA Today, March 7, 1997.


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