JPMorgan Chase is investing $8.45 million in nonprofit organizations and initiatives in Baltimore to help residents boost access to affordable homeownership and increase wealth among communities of color, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility said Tuesday.

The massive financial entity is doubling down on the city, pledging to invest at least $20 million on philanthropic programs and low-cost loans by 2027. From 2019 to 2022, the bank has contributed more than $13 million in philanthropic gifts, according to the company.

It’s a somewhat atypical role for a bank to occupy. Usually, they take a less sustained, and far less hyperlocal, approach to philanthropy.

Much of the funding rolled out Tuesday will support ongoing housing redevelopment in West Baltimore, and smaller portions will be allocated toward small business growth and commercial corridor revitalization efforts, including Downtown and along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Among the funding recipients is Bree Jones, whose Parity Homes community development firm is slowly rehabilitating distressed homes in the city’s Harlem Park neighborhood. Jones, who has previously received about $2 million from JPMorgan Chase, has long been vocal about the financial hurdles in combating the city’s abandoned housing stock, and has previously called on the philanthropic community to open their wallets.

“Intentional capital coupled with strong civic leadership, and most importantly the spirit of the people, folks on the ground: That will be the ingredients to nurturing Baltimore’s revitalization,” she said Tuesday. “And it’s yielding results.”

Jones has committed to overhauling nearly 100 homes in the Harlem Park community without displacing current residents. Last year, two of the first completed houses were unveiled, and hundreds of people have signed up for the Parity Homes waitlist. She said she owns several dozen more properties and has a dozen more under construction now. The homes are sold at affordable rates, and Jones’ team helps buyers navigate the process.

Jones said Parity Homes’ first homebuyers are seeing immediate returns, with the homes appraising for $100,000, on average, above the sales price.

Tuesday’s other funding beneficiaries include Innovation Works, a Baltimore-based company that helps support entrepreneurs; the Baltimore Civic Fund’s “Vacancy to Vibrancy” housing initiative; and The Harbor Bank of Maryland, a community development banking institution.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“By helping entrepreneurs get into commercial spaces, hopefully we’re not just supporting businesses,” said Jay Nwachu, president and CEO of Innovation Works. “We’re breathing life into these assets, and paving the way for job creation and economic growth and an increased sense of community.”

Tim Berry, global head of corporate responsibility and chairman of the Mid-Atlantic region and a member of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said the company has built relationships “on the ground” that have helped inspire this latest round of giving.

He pointed specifically to Mark Anthony Thomas, the head of the Greater Baltimore Committee, as well as Jones and other community-based leaders who have committed to revitalizing whole blocks at a time.

“A lot of different factors that are converging that I think are all pointing in the same direction,” Berry said about Baltimore. “I think people see a huge opportunity.”

The company’s success with boosting community efforts in Detroit, Berry added, also influenced the renewed commitment. While no two cities are alike, Berry said investing in vacant housing, wealth building and homeownership in Baltimore may have a similarly sized impact.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“We feel like we have the resources, the expertise,” Berry said. “And we can build the partnerships and relationships and help the city recover.”

Baltimore is already undergoing a massive transformation in some areas, with the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor, a reprioritization of downtown and the completion of the Harbor Point revitalization on the horizon. Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration also plans to roll out the first-ever “neighborhood” tax increment financing package — bonds floated to cover infrastructure costs that are paid back eventually with property taxes — to serve more of its low-income areas starting this summer.

But even Baltimore’s proudest boosters acknowledge more help is needed.

Jones said the bank’s investment in her work has enabled her to grow her team from one “unpaid founder” to a five-person staff.

“Although vacancy represents one of Baltimore’s biggest challenges,” Jones said, “it also represents Baltimore’s greatest opportunities.”

Hallie Miller covers housing for The Baltimore Banner. She's previously covered city and regional services, business and health at both The Banner and The Baltimore Sun.

More From The Banner