HUD Proposal Could Hurt Affordable Housing in Columbia, Across Region

Proposed regulatory changes to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) housing voucher program could limit the accessibility to affordable housing in Columbia and in the region. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

For decades, families in Columbia have received larger federal rent subsidies than those in the rest of the Baltimore area. Now the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wants to eliminate that advantage, which was intended to make Columbia more accessible to low-income families.

Columbia families could see drastic cuts to their rent subsidies. For example, a family can now apply a subsidy to a two-bedroom apartment that rents for up to $1,567 a month; the proposed change would reduce that cap to $1,187 monthly — a cut of 24 percent.

Thomas Carbo, executive director of the Howard County Housing Commission, said the change would have the effect of “funneling people toward some of the older, lower-rent communities and not giving them opportunities at some of the new properties.”

New proposed limits would reduce rent subsidies in other Baltimore-area localities, though to a lesser degree. And that has housing advocates across the region worried.

The article continued to explain the proposed changes and the impact on local jurisdictions:

“I think we’re all very concerned,” said Clifton Martin, CEO of the Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County. “It seems counterintuitive.”

Directors of area housing agencies, who have banded together in the past to push for higher limits, said they are looking for the data behind HUD’s calculations and expect to submit a comment asking agency officials to reconsider. As of July, rents in the Baltimore area were up about 2.7 percent year-over-year, according to Zillow, an online real estate database.

The regulatory changes “would appear to make it harder for local public housing agencies to affirmatively further fair housing,” said Dan Pontious, housing policy coordinator at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.