In 2010, a small group of folks found a neglected patch of Baltimore that was was ripe for growing food and community. They formed the Baltimore Free Farm collective to begin working the vacant lots, growing and distributing food, and fixing up derelict and abandoned properties in the area. After visiting their friends at the Red Clover Collective, a housing co-op that NASCO had recently assisted in organizing, they decided that they too should use the tools of cooperation to ensure that residential properties could be permanently used to provide affordable housing in a way that supported and enhanced the community. In 2013, they formed a cooperative, Horizontal Housing, and set out to purchase 3 adjacent row houses that were at the heart of the community farming efforts and could house 10 people.
Last Tuesday, two years after forming, they now own two of the properties and master lease the third from a collective member. With technical assistance and training from NASCO and financing from Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund, the Kagawa Student Co-op Reinvestment Fund, and individual supporters, Horizontal Housing has been able to create a cooperative that will anchor this dynamic project to re-envision urban community space.
This summer's big project will now be to renovate the long incomplete "Middle" house that had been tied up in foreclosure and tax-liens for 10 years. The members will be undertaking significant work to drywall and finish the property and plan to move-in by early fall.