Howard Unveils New Strategies to Boost Affordable Housing

Yesterday, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball released the completed Housing Opportunities Master Plan (HOMP) and announced new affordable housing initiatives.

Affordable housing is in short supply across Maryland, and Howard County is no exception. This week the County unveiled several strategies to increase home ownership for low to moderate income families. The County’s new Housing Opportunities Master Plan, a product of a task force that included public outreach, outlines challenges and solutions to increasing the stock of affordable housing in the area. According to the County, only 9 percent of available housing is affordable to households making less than 60 percent of area median income.

“It is so critical that we expand opportunities for homeownership and help more families realize their American dream,” said Ball. “We know that living in a diverse community with a full spectrum of housing affordability and opportunity benefits all of us, and a commitment to that full spectrum of housing opportunities will help us build a county that reflects our values for current and future generations. Today, we’re thrilled to unveil the completed Housing Opportunities Master Plan, and the next big steps we’re taking to make sure that our community is accessible and affordable for more people who want to call Howard County home.”

To help increase affordable housing opportunities for residents, Ball included $5 million towards the establishment of a Housing Opportunities Trust Fund in his proposed FY 2022 operating budget which will fund various HOMP initiatives.

From the press release:

The Housing Opportunities Trust Fund in Ball’s proposed budget is a critical tool to carry out the recommendations from the HOMP, and will allow for the investment in four key areas:

  • Improving home ownership opportunities
  • Increase funding to support prospective homebuyers through the Settlement Down payment Loan Program.
  • Provide funding to facilitate the award of all new units and resales for Moderate Income Housing Units (MIHU).
  • Investments in starting new homebuyer education classes and expanding existing classes will improve residents’ access to education, provide support to existing homeowners, and open the rental unit pipeline.
  • Facilitate rental unit conversions to homeownership by providing funding to support outreach and marketing to targeted communities with high rates of renter-occupied home ownership units.
  • Providing ongoing and new forms of rental assistance
  • With CAREs Act funding, keeping 760 renters in their homes and preventing foreclosure for 17 homeowners.
  • Invest in rental subsidies to make more rental units affordable for severely rent burdened seniors and persons with disabilities.
  • Providing rehab assistance to help keep people in their homes
  • Provide flexible loans and grants to support modifications, rehabilitations, improvements, accessibility, and energy upgrades.
  • And supporting developments that serve populations in need
  • Such as developments like Patuxent Commons; of its planned 76 total units, 19 will be for persons with disabilities; 30 for seniors; and 27 for families.

Useful Links:

Howard Housing Opportunities Master Plan (HOMP)

Press Release