Groups to help disperse Baltimore Co. housing aid Aim is to create low-income units

October 16, 1992|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Staff Writer

The group camped inside the lodge at Oregon Ridge yesterday contemplated that oft-asked question: When is a non-profit group a Chodo?

The answer is supposed to lead to low-income housing in Baltimore County.

Although they spoke bureaucratese -- "Chodo" is the pronunciation of the acronym CHDO, which stands for Community-based Housing Development Organization -- the idea was to get some money out of the hands of the bureaucrats and into the hands of local groups interested in providing affordable housing for a county sorely in need of it.

More than 25 community organizations -- ranging from churches to senior citizens groups -- responded to the invitation from the county's Department of Community Development to hear about the dispersal of $375,000 in federal funds.

That money is part of a $2.4 million grant the county is receiving under the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990. The law requires that 15 percent of all funds -- the $375,000 -- go to a non-profit community-based organization.

Most of the housing funded by the program must be occupied by people making less than 60 percent of the area's median income, or less than $18,500. A sponsoring group must set up a CHDO that involves community participation.

The CHDO can use the money to rehab existing properties for use as low-income housing or to build new housing.

Kevin Roddy of the Department of Community Development said three of the county's housing priorities are units for families of five or more, housing for the disabled, and single-room-occupancy units that would provide the kind of service residential hotels often did in cities.

For example, Mr. Roddy suggested, a CHDO might buy an abandoned motel and turn it into a single-room-occupancy facility.

The county will ask for proposals for use of the $375,000 early in 1993 and will probably decide who gets it by next summer.

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