Program preserves neighborhoods

June 19, 2005|By Andrew G. Sherwood | Andrew G. Sherwood,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County is an elegant area, rich in culture, tradition and history.

The region includes equestrian ranches, historic homes, scenic countryside and the bustling city center of Baltimore.

The overall objective of the Housing Opportunities Program is to improve housing stock and preserve neighborhoods by working with community-based organizations, creating homeownership opportunities, assisting homeowners to bring their residences up to Baltimore County codes and standards; and to stimulate the development and redevelopment of high-quality multifamily housing for county renters.

The county's goal within its fiscal capacity is to ensure that each resident has the resources to enjoy a high quality of life and that each of its communities is livable and attractive.

Residents have the right to fair and equal access to housing that is decent, safe, sanitary and affordable.

To this end, Baltimore County is making an effort to maintain its institutional and financial capacity to ensure the availability of housing for all its residents.

The Office of Community Conservation assigns four coordinators to specific regions of the county, where they work with communities.

The office also employs experts in architecture, housing and community outreach. It relies on support from the Office of Planning, the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Public Works.

As one of the oldest of the suburban Baltimore counties, Baltimore County has communities from Lansdowne to Dundalk in need of attention.

Some, particularly on the east side, have been in serious decline, with crime and blight driving stable families to other counties. Other neighborhoods, though still strong, are showing signs of aging: crumbling sidewalks, shabby public buildings and broken curbs.

As part of its effort to improve neighborhoods, the county is helping grass-roots volunteers revitalize Dundalk.

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