Housing plan exclusion stirs concern Dropping residents of middle incomes disturbs HUD officials

News conference today

$22.7 million grant awarded to redevelop dilapidated projects

July 23, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Federal housing officials are expressing concern over ZTC Baltimore's new plan to exclude middle-income residents from the rowhouse communities that will replace the Lafayette Courts and Lexington Terrace housing projects.

"If Baltimore [housing officials are] changing their plans other than what was originally submitted, it gives me great concern," said Christopher Hornig, deputy assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing.

On Friday, Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III told The Sun that his original plan to move more socially and economically diverse residents into the new rowhouse communities was not feasible because developers doubted that middle-class people would buy houses in the area.

Hornig said that city housing officials have not submitted any changes to HUD -- a requirement because of a $22.7 million federal grant given to redevelop the aging housing projects.

Following a nationwide trend to transform dilapidated high-rise housing projects into heterogeneous communities, Baltimore officials applied for federal housing grants and won the money over about 15 other cities.

The city was awarded money to demolish and then rebuild Lexington Terrace based on the plan that Baltimore housing officials would include middle-income residents to live side by side with low-income and poor residents.

But yesterday, Department of Housing and Urban Development officials were trying to sort out the implications of Henson's announcement.

"We are trying to find out what all this means. We haven't talked to" Baltimore housing officials, Hornig said. "We are expecting a submission and a conversation."

Henson will hold a news conference at 10 this morning to address questions.

Patricia J. Payne, secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, said the city's about-face does not mean the end of mixed-income public housing.

"This was one site and I don't think it has significance citywide," Payne said. "We think that the market is definitely there for mixed-income."

Ted Rouse of Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse, the lead partner with the city in building the replacement for Lexington Terrace, differed with Henson, saying the development would include a mix of incomes.

Rouse said that rowhouses would be built for residents whose yearly income totals $44,000.

Some residents were upset at the change in plans.

Bobbie L. McKinney, who has been a resident of Lexington Terrace for 38 years and wants to live in the new development, said the new plan would prevent middle-class people from wanting to move into the area.

"I don't want to come back to Lexington Terrace knowing it is only for poor families," McKinney said.

Pub Date: 7/23/96

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