Jubilee was founded by Neal Harris in 1980 to create and preserve low-income housing in the gentrifying neighborhood of Butchers Hill in Southeast Baltimore. By 1990, under the leadership of Charlie Duff, Jubilee had developed more than 100 houses and apartments and was Baltimore’s leading developer of mixed-income housing. When a severe recession in 1990 dried up the middle-class part of the housing market and threatened all Southeast neighborhoods with collapse, Jubilee worked to strengthen neighborhoods by developing senior housing, helping more than 2,000 unemployed people to find jobs, and strengthening community institutions, particularly churches.
In 1998, as Baltimore was beginning to come out of the recession, Jubilee was invited to make a community plan for the four neighborhoods of the Midtown Community Benefits District. The planning effort generated enormous enthusiasm and led to the creation of the Midtown Development Corporation, which Jubilee was asked to staff. The people of Midtown wanted Jubilee to help them attract good neighbors and rebuild their dilapidated stock of historic row houses. In ten years, through a combination of techniques, we brought about the renovation of more than 150 Midtown houses, with an investment of more than $100 million. Now, every block of Midtown is stable, and Midtown is attracting more re-investment than any part of the city.
Today, while continuing to work in Southeast and Midtown, Jubilee is tackling the neighborhoods of Central Baltimore. This is Baltimore’s “hole in the doughnut,” the set of half-abandoned neighborhoods between Penn Station and Charles Village.
Central Baltimore is the next great part of this reviving city. Mt. Vernon and Charles Village are expanding, and growth at the University of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, and MICA is making the area attractive to young people. The transformation of MICA from a little-known regional institution to one of America’s two top-ranked colleges of art has made it possible for Central Baltimore to become a real arts district, something that Baltimore has sorely lacked. Jubilee is working extensively in Central Baltimore, and is an integral part of the Central Baltimore Partnership, an alliance of community groups, colleges and universities, and city government agencies that is working to redevelop the area.