Poe Homes neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore. Image via Google Street View.

Lowe’s is committing more $2 million over the next three years to improve access to affordable housing and provide a pathway to skilled trades employment for Southwest Baltimore communities, the home improvement company announced Thursday.

The money will be used to complete home repairs for 45 homeowners, increase workforce development opportunities and enhance local recreation centers, parks and green areas.

“Lowe’s is uniquely suited to make a difference by addressing two things we know well – creating safe, affordable housing and supporting skilled trades – in our Baltimore neighborhoods,” Quonta Vance, Lowe’s north division president, said in a statement.

Lowe’s will be working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Rebuilding Together Baltimore, and the Southwest Partnership (SWP), a coalition of seven neighborhoods and six institutions working to improve Southwest Baltimore.

SWP will manage Lowe’s supported workforce development grant program, which will build programs with local partners and institutions to train and promote Southwest Baltimore residents for skilled trade jobs.

The first year’s grantees will include the Safe Alternative Foundation for Education (S.A.F.E.) to build a new workforce development community center; 10:12 Sports to support their sports mentoring program graduates; and the University of Maryland Medical Center to provide free healthcare career training to area residents.

“At SWP, we work diligently to connect our neighborhoods with the right partners who share common interests and have the resources to create change and make an impact,” SWP Events and Marketing Manager Curtis Eaddy II said in a statement.

The grants from Lowe’s will help tackle challenges that Southwest Baltimore communities are facing, including “economic stability, safe and secure housing, access to green and recreation space, and the ongoing negative impact of disinvestment,” Eaddy said.

Lowe’s and SWP will also assist with renovating the Poppleton Recreational Center Park and mural, as well as other projects that will be announced at a later date.

Lowe’s will work with Rebuilding Together Baltimore to perform critical repairs, including roof replacement, exterior wall repair, energy efficiency improvements, home modifications and more, for 45 homes in Southwest Baltimore.

“Nationwide, more than 2.6 million homeowners live in deteriorating, physically inadequate homes that threaten their health and safety,” Rebuilding Together President and CEO Caroline Blakely said in a statement.

The partnership with Lowe’s will help preserve critical affordable housing opportunities and stabilize and revitalize Southwest Baltimore neighborhoods, Blakely said.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, who was sworn in on Tuesday, said in a statement that “the rebirth of our city depends on everybody working together,” and that the $2 million commitment from Lowe’s will move that mission forward by improving the quality of life in Southwest Baltimore.

“When we are able to strengthen one neighborhood, all of Baltimore becomes a better place,” Scott said.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...