Maryland’s housing department announced funding on Wednesday for what it says is a record amount of affordable housing units.
The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) dedicated $44 million to finance over 1,800 units of affordable housing through two programs: the state’s Rental Housing Funds and the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The proposed developments span from Washington County in Western Maryland to Worcester County on the Eastern Shore, including four Baltimore City developments: Sojourner Place at Wolfe, Cold Spring Lane, Parkway Overlook, and Rosemont Gardens (and in Baltimore County there is the Henrietta Lacks Village at Lyons Homes, just one of many places named after her).
Governor Larry Hogan’s administration prioritized developments in Opportunity Zones, “economically stressed” communities that qualify investors for tax breaks under President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax reforms. (ProPublica revealed last month that Hogan designated Port Covington, site of a massive development for a new Under Armour headquarters, as an Opportunity Zone based on a mapping error).
The focus on Opportunity Zones signals a shift for DHCD. In the previous round of funding, Hogan prioritized the Baltimore region’s “communities of opportunity”: mostly suburban areas with low crime, minimal poverty, and highly-ranked schools. That round financed a record 809 units in Baltimore-area communities of opportunity—areas that often fight development of low-income housing. Financing those units helped the state fulfill a “voluntary compliance agreement” it had entered into with the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development over a complaint that the state had disproportionately funneled developments using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit into poor areas with high minority populations.
Despite the focus on Opportunity Zones in this round, DHCD financed 397 units in Baltimore-area “communities of opportunity.” All of those units are planned for Howard County, which since the mid-1990s has banned source-of-income discrimination and kept an inclusionary housing law on the books. No units were financed in Baltimore County, which has no public housing and is under its own voluntary compliance agreement to finance housing in communities of opportunity.