A new helping hand at Live Near Your Work

Image caption: Katie Schroeder in the C.A.R.E. neighborhood, where home-buying Johns Hopkins employees are eligible for grants of $26,000.

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

If you plan to buy a home in Baltimore City and you work for Johns Hopkins, you need to get to know Katie Schroeder.

As the university's new community programs manager, Schroeder oversees the Live Near Your Work program, which means she has the scoop on how Hopkins employees can receive thousands of dollars through special grants when purchasing homes in specific Baltimore neighborhoods near our campuses.

It's a new role for Schroeder, but she is by no means a newbie on the local real estate scene. Schroeder grew up in Baltimore, in the Riverside neighborhood near Locust Point, and now lives in Woodberry. Besides her personal experiences as a self-described Baltimore "lifer," Schroeder spent five years working at the local nonprofit Live Baltimore, joining the Hopkins Office of Work, Life and Engagement this past fall after the retirement of Sandy Jenkins. In her former position, Schroeder worked closely with Jenkins, so transitioning to Hopkins was a win-win for both Hopkins and Live Baltimore, whose executive director was supportive of the move.

"Coming to Hopkins was a natural next step for me—I'm really excited to be here," Schroeder says. "Live Baltimore's mission is to promote the city as a great place to live, and my role there was to work with customers through the whole buying process to identify incentive programs to help them with their purchases."

Here at Hopkins, Schroeder's role is similar, setting up neighborhood walking tours (more of those are on the way this spring), organizing workshops, and alerting employee homebuyers of any grants and incentive packages that are available to help defray down payment and settlement costs—often the biggest barriers to homeownership, especially for first-time home buyers.

Live Near Your Work is an incentive program run by Baltimore City in partnership with scores of local employers. Since 2008, Johns Hopkins has provided more than $5 million in grants to 587 of the 15,000 university and health system employees who call Baltimore City home. In 2015, its employees accounted for 49 percent of the 260 applications submitted to the city, making Johns Hopkins the program's biggest participating employer overall.

A special grant became available a few months ago for those looking to make their new home in an East Baltimore neighborhood near the School of Nursing. Limited to just 10 grants and funded by the state of Maryland, the C.A.R.E. Homeownership Incentive Program, known as CHIP, provides $20,000 that can be applied to the cost of homes in the area bounded by McElderry Street, Patterson Park Avenue, Fayette Street, and Wolfe Street. The C.A.R.E. neighborhood falls within the Tier C target area of the Live Near Your Work program, which means homebuyers there also will receive $6,000 from that program, Schroeder said. A walking tour of the neighborhood is set for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 23. (Register here or call 443-997-7000.)

"Only one of these awards has been used so far, so we are trying to get the word out," Schroeder said.

To find out more about the CHIP grant or any of the other $5,000 to $25,000 grants available to full-time, benefits-eligible employees, visit the Live Near Your Work website or contact Schroeder at 443-997-7000.