The Washington Post

Chase Lloyd House board approves grant to help women in public housing


After decades of housing elderly women in Annapolis came to an end last year, the historic Chase Lloyd House has begun a new mission to help women in need.

Last month, the Chase Lloyd House Board of Trustees, which oversees the mansion, approved a $24,000 grant from its endowment to help pay off rent arrearage for women living in Annapolis public housing. So far, the board has distribute­d about half the funds to five women, all of whom are single mothers with dependents living in properties owned by the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis, the board’s executive director, Heather East, said.

“This is kind of the beginning of a new Chase Home,” East said.

For more than 130 years, the building, originally constructe­d in 1769, had been an independen­t living facility for elderly women. Typically, the building held six to eight residents at a time. But after major structural and safety issues were discovered last year, the board told the current residents it could no longer house them. In August 2020, the last of five former residents moved out.

In the intervenin­g 16 months, East and the board have sought a new mission, one that hews toward the legacy left by Hester Chase Ridout, the last private owner of the building, who establishe­d the home as a place for women in 1886. The rental assistance grant builds on the Renter Eviction Avoidance Program overseen by Arundel Community Developmen­t Services, which used federal coronaviru­s relief funding to pay residents’ back rent starting in March 2020.

The nonprofit arm of the Anne Arundel County government contracted with Civil Justice Inc., a Maryland legal services organizati­on, to provide legal support to public housing residents.

The board is in the early stages of becoming a grant-making commission and is seeking proposals from nonprofits that help women across the region with plans to use its endowment to help develop additional programs.

The house is named for its first owner, Samuel Chase, one of Maryland’s signers of the Declaratio­n of Independen­ce and an early U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Plantation owner Edward Lloyd bought the home from Chase, giving it the name it has today.

Ridout and her two sisters were orphaned at a young age and spent much time in the home with their aunt Hester Ann Chase. When Chase died, Ridout became the last private owner in a succession of female owners of the property.

Before her death in 1888, Ridout establishe­d in her will that the house would be for women and set up a board of trustees to run the home. Dozens of women lived in the home from 1900 to 1940, according to a historical account. More than 40 women lived at the Chase Lloyd House during the Great Depression, East said.

As for the Chase Lloyd House’s future, the damage assessment is ongoing. The board partnered with a historical preservati­on and architectu­re firm to assess all the repairs that must be done.

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