Governor Hogan Announces $700 Million Initiative in Baltimore City

As we’ve read in the news, Maryland has begun a $700 million plan to revitalize blighted neighborhoods in Baltimore City, starting with $9.875 million in funding (FY 2016) for demolishing unsafe vacant homes. After speaking with Audra Harrison, Director of the Office Public Information for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, I am confident our neighborhoods will be fairly assessed and revitalized via this program. Here’s why:

The Maryland Stadium Authority is the designated project manager for the initiative — because of their expertise in large-scale redevelopment projects, including Baltimore City’s 21st Century School Buildings plan. Funding will also be managed by the state, and allocated by the state, not Baltimore City.

With the governor’s plan comes millions of dollars in funding for affordable housing, small business development, and relocation. For FY 2016, funding will be as follows:

  • $149 million through DHCD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, to acquire and renovate public housing facilities.
  • $1.3 million available through the Community Legacy program
  • $2.87 million through the Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative.

According to Ms. Harrison, the plan will also include funding for low-income/affordable housing (both multi-family and single-family units) and mixed-use development, along with market rate housing, to bring true economic stabilization to neighborhoods that have been in decline for 40+ years.

Keep in mind, also, that RAD projects are to remain low-income housing for up to 40 years — the idea is to stabilize neighborhoods, not make them unaffordable for residents who currently live there. As you will see below, the largest funding allocations will be for affordable housing, in each of the fiscal years.

Funding for FY 2017-2019:

FY 2017 Proposed Financing – $278 million:

  • $19.125 million in strategic demolition funds in the Governor’s budget;
  • $155 million in RAD program funds;
  • $70 million through multifamily affordable housing commitment through multifamily revenue bond issuance for affordable housing;
  • $15 million through low income housing tax credit program raised through the department’s financing activities/bonds;
  • $15 million through private activity bonds for small business;
  • $1.3 million through community legacy program;
  • $2.87 million through Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative.

FY 2018 Proposed Financing – $143 million:

  • $20 million in strategic demolition funds in the Governor’s budget;
  • $70 million through multifamily housing revenue bonds for affordable housing;
  • $17.99 million through RAD (subject to increase);
  • $15 million through low income housing tax credit program raised through the department’s financing activities/bonds;
  • $15 million through private activity bonds for small business;
  • $1.3 million through community legacy program;
  • $2.87 million through Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative.

FY 2019 Proposed Financing – $129 million:

  • $25 million in strategic demolition funds in the Governor’s budget;
  • $70 million through multifamily housing revenue bonds for affordable housing;
  • $15 million through low income housing tax credit program raised through the department’s financing activities/bonds;
  • $15 million through private activity bonds for small business;
  • $1.3 million through community legacy program;
  • $2.87 million through Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative.

I hope this information addresses many concerns I’ve been hearing, with regard to the governor’s plan and its funding. The one thing that keeps going through my mind is the idea that we need to make some drastic changes in the way Baltimore does business and treats its citizens — my feeling is this will be a solid, sustainable first step in ensuring the economic well-being of communities that have been ignored and abandoned for decades. There is a higher level of fiscal accountability tied to this program, including vetting any organization that wants to take advantage of the funding and participate in redevelopment efforts, because those activities are (for the most part) being done by the state and not Baltimore City.

I look forward to seeing the positive changes this plan has the potential to bring to our neighborhoods!