Coalition acts to stem Md. aid cuts Economic benefits, including jobs, cited for homes programs

November 12, 1995|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Low-income families could be left homeless and communities left to deteriorate if anticipated state budget cuts chip away at rental and homeownership programs, a statewide housing advocacy group warns.

In an effort to steer the budget ax away from state housing programs, the Maryland Low Income Housing Coalition has released a study showing the economic impact of rental and for-sale housing financed by the state Community Development Administration over the past five years.

Programs financing more than 14,400 units of rental and for-sale housing have created more than 15,000 one-year construction jobs, generating more than $1 billion in total economic activity, the report said.

The 10-year-old coalition, made up of some 140 banks, government agencies, nonprofit groups and businesses, focused on programs offered through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

By breaking down total housing units and economic impact in each county, highlighting at least one residential project in each, the coalition hopes to persuade legislators to boost the housing department's current $47.2 million capital projects budget.

"If the state is going to attract and retain business, we need to provide a full range of housing affordability for workers," said Polly Duke, executive director of the coalition. "It's not done completely through the private sector."

She said members of the coalition plan to begin meeting with legislators and members of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's staff before the legislative session to persuade them to boost, or at least maintain, the state's role.

"To cut a program like this, which buys far more than it costs the state, isn't good policy," she said.

"It would clearly slow the production of housing. If we are going to rebuild our communities, this is part of the resources that make that happen."

Jobs created

Projects were financed by nearly $400 million in direct state financing, leveraging an additional $291 million from other lenders and investors.

Nonprofit housing developers took on about 24 percent of the total cost of rental housing financed by the Community Development Administration and 45 percent of the rental projects.

Highlighted in the report were the 159-unit Admiral Oaks apartments in Annapolis, which created 200 jobs; Sharon Towers in Baltimore, in which a 12-unit vacant building was renovated for families and the homeless, creating 27 jobs; and Tanyard Branch, 26 rental townhouses in Caroline County, which created 32 jobs.

Shelter grants

The Department of Community and Housing Development has programs to supply rental housing for low-income families and low-income elderly through loans at below market rate and deferred payment loans to developers.

Other aid includes grants to improve or create emergency shelters. Homeownership programs finance below-market mortgages for new or existing homes.

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