Housing trust fund proposed for city

May 09, 2006|By JOHN FRITZE

Baltimore could establish a trust fund to build and expand more affordable housing under a city charter amendment proposed yesterday by City Council President Sheila Dixon.

Modeled after a District of Columbia program, the fund could be used to build new housing or make direct grants to residents who need assistance paying their rent or mortgage.

"Baltimore's market now is very ripe for market-rate houses," Dixon said. "But there is a population out there - particularly our seniors, the disabled and people who pay rent - who need quality housing."

The proposal, introduced in the City Council, does not specify how the housing account would be funded. Dixon said Washington's fund, which was created in 1988, has a dedicated slice of the city's recordation fee, which is charged when a property changes hands.

City Council approval is required for a charter amendment to be placed on the ballot for city voters to decide in the next general election. Hearings on the amendment could be held this month.

Dixon's proposal comes on the heels of a housing program crafted last year by Mayor Martin O'Malley that directs $59 million toward affordable housing initiatives. That fund draws most of its money from federal grants and budget surpluses and is intended to prepare vacant land for redevelopment.

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