While many of us see Baltimore's vacancies as eye sores and threats to public safety that's not the case for a Baltimore duo who built a multi-million dollar empire revitalizing vacant homes.
As part of our 4 part series WMAR is highlighting the work of the Charm City Buyers who work to create paths to home ownership across Baltimore.
Block by block, covered in blight across Baltimore for most appear to be troubling images; but, for Kyara and Khalil Uqdah head of Charm City Buyers, they're unpaved paths to prosperity.
“We've found and have first time home buyers that are filling blocks that were completely vacant before we got there and] that's fun for me to drive around Baltimore and see and remember. I remember when these houses were all boarded up and there were no cars on the block and now I cant find a parking spot. That's always fun,” said Kyara Uqdah.
While neighborhoods are neglected, Charm City Buyers hope every purchase of a vacant house becomes a spark igniting a real estate revival.
“We've done blocks that look exactly like that where its a complete row of homes that have been vacant and blighted and boarded up and for us we see future areas for folks to be homeowners. We see ways to activate this space."
Walking through a newly renovated home transformed from dire condition, it's just one example of an about-face from blight to beauty.
Its a process for many, riddled with challenges.
“Often times what we find is that people run into issues with either capital, with time and with knowledge. One of those 3 things is off and unfortunately if you lose one of those things it's like a house of cards everything falls apart.
By knowing the steps before-hand by leveraging different grants and tax credits to make sure the projects come to life, you can absolutely revitalize houses in the area.
They say it takes a lot of planning and organization as well as vision to see potential in certain properties at times when no one else does.
“It starts with identifying the property and closing on a loan to purchase and get the funding to fix it up. We go through all of the different steps. With this property we couldn’t even walk through the back door into the middle. The roof had collapsed in. Everything was just a mess. So we had to demo it reframe everything brand new. We had to run our brand new electrical, mechanical plumbing, put the dry wall up, do the paint all the doors and windows and then finally fix it up to a place where we get cabinets countertops and appliances,” Uqdah shared.
Then that house, after all of the steps and several months, becomes one of hundreds across the city transformed into a loving home for future families.
“For us, its not just about making sure we pass inspection and making it as pretty as possible for us, we're literally creating homes people are going to lay their heads and know when they wake up the floor hasn’t collapse on them or the window is safe and their nice and warm and toasty in the winter and cool during the summer time,” Khalil Uqdah explained.
They’re hoping to create a sense of home, security, ownership: ingredients for a change of more than just an address.
"So if you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at the base level, basic needs you have your safety your security your food your clothing your shelter. Your shelter thats your very basic human need. You dont feel safe if youre insecure with housing. For us its always been how do we see opportunities in our neighborhoods first and really change the narrative of what it looks like for our neighborhoods and cities to develop,” the Uqdah’s told WMAR-2 News.