Last week, Howard County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball unveiled HOME or Housing Opportunities Meant for Everyone package.
Last week, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball was joined by Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day, Department of Housing and Community Development Director Kelly Cimino, and other community leaders and advocates to announce the County’s new comprehensive Housing Opportunities Meant for Everyone, or HOME, package. Comprised of a suite of policy and programmatic initiatives, HOME is aimed at tackling housing affordability in Howard County.
Through bold and innovative solutions tailored to address Howard County’s housing challenges, the HOME package includes:
- Local legislation to prohibit rent gouging and bring stability and predictability to the rental housing market. By setting annual rent increases to the lesser of inflation plus five percent or ten percent, tenants will be protected from excessive and extreme rent increases through this thoughtful policy approach. This legislation will be filed with the County Council for consideration in November.
- An expansion of Howard County’s Right to Purchase law, allowing the County and the Howard County Housing Commission to partner with nonprofit and private organizations to purchase existing rental properties and convert market rate units to affordable. This legislation will be filed with the County Council for consideration in November.
- State legislation to expand the Maryland payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) law to enable Howard County to offer tax credits to property owners for the creation of new affordable housing units. This legislation will be considered by the Howard County Delegation during the 2024 General Assembly Session.
- Security deposit and rental assistance programs for students and families experiencing homelessness. An investment of $2 million will be used to provide rental subsidies and security deposit guarantees to Howard County Public School System families experiencing homelessness, as well as Howard Community College students of eligible income who are seeking housing assistance.
- Home accessibility modifications for seniors and people with disabilities through a $100,000 investment. The Accessibility Modifications Program will provide $100,000 to Accessible Resources for Independence to assist landlords with making modifications to rental units at no cost to the prospective tenants.
- Award of $3 million from the County’s Housing Opportunities Trust Fund (HOTF) to direct new investments in homeownership, rehabilitation, rental subsidies and affordable unit creation. This includes $1.6 million for the transformational Patuxent Commons affordable housing project, which will include 25% of units available for people with disabilities.
According to the press release:
Like many counties and regions across the nation, Howard County is faced with an ongoing housing crisis. The rising cost of housing impedes many of our residents from realizing and continuing their dream of calling Howard County home. Our comprehensive HOME package aims to address our housing challenges head-on through policy changes and programmatic initiatives targeted at improving housing affordability and stability within our community, as well as protecting tenant rights. – Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive
I want to congratulate County Executive Ball and his team who, along with the community partners involved with the HOME Package, are taking a bold step today toward solving Howard County’s housing challenges. The affordable housing crisis impacts everyone in this state, and the fastest way to affect positive change is at the local level. I applaud Howard County’s efforts to help its residents with this initiative. DHCD and the State of Maryland are ready to help support Howard County’s success and ensure that everyone has a place to live and that no Marylander is left behind. – Jake Day, Secretary, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
In addition to proposed legislation and new programs, County Executive Calvin Ball announced that the Department of Housing and Community Development will open an application to award an additional $10 million from the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund this fall. This funding will be used to further advance rental assistance, homeownership initiatives, and the creation of new affordable housing opportunities. Once potential awardees are selected, funding approval will be presented to the County Council in 2024.
A Broader County Effort to Support Affordable Housing
Last week, the Maryland Association of Counties’ Legislative Committee finalized the top four initiatives for the 2024 legislative session. Among the top four is broad support for further development of affordable housing:
ADVANCE COMPREHENSIVE HOUSING SOLUTIONS
Maryland and our nation face multiple persistent challenges with housing affordability. Various factors have conspired to grow this crisis – including external actors in the buyers’ market, interest rates, lack of financing tools, and state/local regulations and permitting.
MACo advocates for a broad-based approach to help Maryland address its housing concerns – providing resources, tools, and guidance to benefit builders, homebuyers, and residential communities.
Howard County’s recent announcement is in line with a broader effort by Maryland’s 24 counties to combat the current housing crisis. MACo has been a vocal proponent of policies aimed at boosting affordable housing production while preserving local communities’ ability to shape the look, smell, and feel of the places they call home. Counties plan to continue this effort and to collaborate with the Moore Administration and General Assembly to that end.