Roberta’s House is a community-based nonprofit that offers a comprehensive bereavement support program for those most impacted by violent crime and loss of life. It has over 300 trained volunteers and professional staff that carry out the center’s mission to alleviate the effects of crime by providing a safe healing space to deal with tragedy.
Through peer and non-clinical support, education, empowerment, and community awareness, Roberta’s House offers free programs and services to low-income children and teens together with their families. The service is particularly focused on those who have experienced the death of a loved one; those who have family or friends that have been victims of homicide; those living in high crime areas of Baltimore as well as those under the supervision of juvenile correctional services.
The center was established in 2007 by March Funeral Homes, in memory of the late Julia Roberta March, its matriarch and co-founder, who was known for her compassion. Thousands of families were served out of their small row house funeral home because of their commitment to providing dignified, affordable services to local families. The small mom and pop business grew remarkably to become one of the largest African American, family owned and operated funeral services in the country.
The new center is being constructed on a currently vacant and under-utilized corner lot at the intersection of North Avenue and Cecil Avenue in Central Baltimore. It is on the site of the landmark row houses where the first March Funeral Home was established in 1957.
The new facility will support expanded programming with art activity rooms, a library resource center, theatre, fitness room, an expression room and family counseling rooms. Its meeting rooms will also be available to the community for other uses. The center is projected to serve at least 2,000 families annually from both inside and outside Baltimore City.
The project is being financed through a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) transaction. The allocation comes from Harbor Bank with Wells Fargo as the investor. The project is supported by a wide range of funders including the March family, several large local grant-making organizations and Baltimore City and State of Maryland grant sources.
Given these various sources and payment schedules, Reinvestment Fund’s loan is bridging future grant proceeds, helping the project move forward. Capital for Reinvestment Fund’s loan comes from sources that includes Living Cities and the Central Baltimore Future Fund. Reinvestment Fund is also providing a short-term loan to bridge to investor equity for pre-incurred costs related to the NMTC transaction.