City will gain another $3 million in U.S. housing funds

November 17, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's housing department will receive $3 million more next year because of the recently passed federal budget that city leaders say offers the most drastic housing policy changes in 61 years.

City Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III said the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act passed as part of the budget late last month will give the city more flexibility in dealing with housing issues, including:

Site-Based Waiting Lists. The city has 25,000 families waiting for public housing on a main list. Each family receives three chances to refuse properties they deem undesirable before being sent to the bottom of the list. Under the new measure, families can sign up on lists for housing sites in areas where they want to live.

Rent ceilings. Under the new law, the city housing authority can implement rent limits that will not rise above the average rent rate in an area. Low-income residents now pay 30 percent of their income, a policy that Henson said is a disincentive to work and increasing household income.

Producing income. The housing authority will be able to earn income much like a landlord or developer. In the past, authorities who earned additional money were traditionally penalized by having their federal award reduced.

The housing department budget for next year is $14.7 million. Henson also announced that the city Housing and Community Development agency has added $1.7 million to the Baltimore City Home Ownership Program.

City employees can qualify for $3,000 grants by choosing to live in the city. Additional city grants are available that, when combined, could increase grant amounts to $10,000.

Pub Date: 11/17/98

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