July 29 closing keynote

Shelley Halstead

After attending law school, Shelley Halstead launched Black Women Build – Baltimore, a homeownership and wealth-building initiative. Shelley will share how she’s creating intergenerational wealth by empowering women and communities.

Shelley Halstead headshot on blue block


Shelley is the founder of Black Women Build – Baltimore (BWBB), a homeownership and wealth-building initiative that trains Black women in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing by restoring vacant and deteriorated houses in West Baltimore. Once complete, women have the opportunity to buy the house they worked on at an affordable price, as well as enter a trades-related field if they desire.

Shelley has lived and worked all over the globe: From a commune in Belgium to an ashram in India to a science station in Antarctica. She moved to Baltimore in 2015 after spending 20 years in Seattle, where she was a union carpenter for many years. While in the Pacific Northwest she also managed her own construction business and has bought and sold numerous houses, restoring each one. After attending law school as a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law, Shelley decided to put her skills as a carpenter and her passion for economic and reproductive justice together by using her degree and particular skillset to begin BWBB.

Since their first round in August 2019, BWBB has rebuilt six more houses and is well on its way to meeting its goal of helping six women become first-time homeowners annually. To help keep their houses affordable, BWBB works with the Committee on Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), which provides a 10-year tax credit on the property value increase resulting from rehabilitation work, saving thousands of dollars for the homeowner. Another initiative to increase affordability is slated to begin in 2022 using low energy/net zero building strategies to reduce the high utility costs that can quickly put a Baltimore homeowner in debt or foreclosure. BWBB is not only rebuilding sections of historically disenfranchised neighborhoods, they’re doing so economically, environmentally, and consciously.

Shelley Halstead Keynote Event: Community Voices
July 29 at 1pm