Family, Politics

Baltimore County Affordable Housing Work Group issues final report

TOWSON, MD—The Baltimore County Affordable Housing Work Group, convened in 2021 by County Executive Johnny Olszewski, this week released its final report.

The report, which was finalized after public feedback on an interim report was considered, includes a proposed vision statement and 36 recommendations to bolster the County’s ongoing efforts to expand equitable access to affordable housing.

“Baltimore County is a place for everyone, and ensuring access to attainable housing, providing community support, and developing stronger neighborhoods is a key priority for my administration,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “We have made significant progress in this endeavor, and the Work Group’s report is sure to be a guide as we continue expanding the availability of quality housing for every resident of our County. These recommendations arrive at a critical time, when the need for affordable housing access is at an all-time high.”

Olszewski intends to move forward with an implementation plan of the recommendations swiftly. He has tasked the County’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) with leading this high-priority initiative. As part of this commitment, the County’s Acting Director of Government Affairs, Joel Beller, has joined DHCD as Deputy Chief of Policy and Strategic Initiatives to coordinate and advance the implementation efforts. Under the 2016 Conciliation Agreement and Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) between Baltimore County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Baltimore County committed to supporting and incentivizing the creation of 1,000 affordable rental housing units by 2027. To date, 544 units have been approved.

The Affordable Housing Work Group has reviewed the County’s progress, examined ongoing challenges, and developed actionable recommendations to further support and incentivize the creation of affordable housing units into three primary areas:

  1. More affordable housing developments in Opportunity Areas.
  2. Investing in place-based strategies in existing, older communities where affordable housing is present to address housing needs and to improve opportunities.
  3. Investing in older affordable housing that is in danger of becoming market rate or is substandard.

The Workgroup’s recommendations include, among other items:

  • Formally defining the term “Affordable Housing” in the Baltimore County Code.
  • Adopting inclusionary zoning practices.
  • Allowing multifamily developments in select commercial and industrial zones.
  • Exploring the use of capital funding to build out public infrastructure and perform demolition to support affordable housing development sites.
  • Conducting a Housing Needs Assessment to support strategic planning and other efforts.
  • Identifying County-owned land, or explore purchase of additional land, for developers and/or builders.
  • Establishing a pre-development fund to help smaller, less-established minority or women developers gain access to capital.
  • Developing a policy for reserving and/or acquiring units in existing multi-family housing developments for voucher holders.
  • Considering establishing a quasi-governmental housing authority.
  • Establishing a Housing Board to advise and support affordable housing and related County initiatives.
  • Expanding the availability of housing options for persons with disabilities.
  • Adopting a “place-based strategy” to address housing conditions in existing neighborhoods that are not in Opportunity Areas.
  • Hosting a Developer’s Roundtable to identify impediments and new strategies.
  • Expanding community education, outreach and engagement efforts.

The Baltimore County Affordable Housing Work Group’s Report and full list of recommendations is available here.

For questions or more information about the Baltimore County Affordable Housing Work Group, please visit the work group’s webpage.

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