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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Habitat to target artists with new program

(Aug. 27, 2015) New affordable housing for artists could be coming to Berlin, following a 5-0 vote by the Town Council on Monday to support a Department of Housing and Community Development funding application by Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County.
The compact, mixed-use development, projected at 6,000 total square feet, would include three apartments and three retail spaces. Ideally, artists could live where they work and either operate a gallery or produce artisan goods, according to Executive Director Andrea Bowland.
“We envision it as an opportunity for artists in the community to be able to come in and afford to both live and work there,” she said.
Vice President Lauren Bunting said it was the first time the nonprofit had attempted a project of this scope.
“The big part of why we’re taking this bigger step is Habitat of Worcester County specifically has always really only been able to do one home a year,” she said, adding that the addition of a full-time employee, Bowland, allowed for the move.
The retail space would provide revenue to Habitat through monthly rental fees. Bowland said that current funding opportunities typically support projects that have a greater community impact, rather than one individual family at a time.
Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County currently serves families who earn 30-60 percent of the median income for the county.
“This project would continue to honor the affiliate’s income restrictions, while simultaneously providing a ‘hand up’ for artists or small business owners in the form of both affordable housing and business retail space,” Bowland said.
A project of this scope would be carried out in phases and requires a mix of funding, she added.
“The initial phase is for pre-construction costs including land acquisition, demolition, site work, and architectural renderings,” Bowland said. “The proposed plan is to solicit additional grant funding for the construction phase, with supplemental support from a forthcoming crowd-funding campaign.”
Mayor Gee Williams praised the project, saying properties outside of the downtown area compliment the more prestigious – and costly – Main Street shops.
“Let’s face it, not everybody who’s starting a business is going to start with a lot of money flowing,” he said. “[This] allows them to build their business and build their reputation.”
The nonprofit will host a masquerade gala honoring the 20th anniversary of Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County on Friday, Oct. 23 at the Historic St. Martin’s Church near Berlin. Tickets will go on sale online on Sept. 18.
For more information on upcoming events and projects, visit, or follow Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County on Facebook.