O'Malley seeks to expand affordable housing program

Governor would spend $25 million for low-cost, long-term loans to developers

January 11, 2013|By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun

Gov. Martin O'Malley proposed Friday spending $25 million to expand a program that gives developers low-cost, long-term loans to build or renovate affordable rental housing.

The Rental Works Housing initiative was launched last year with $17.5 million, which can be lent to developers to finance construction or rehabilitation of homes for working families, senior citizens and people with disabilities. The governor said he is proposing $25 million for the program in his capital budget proposal to the General Assembly.

"There is no more powerful place in our state than a family's home," O'Malley said in a statement.

Since the program got under way in May, the Department of Housing and Community Development has lent $2 million and has $20 million pending for projects in various states of approval, said Patricia Rynn Sylvester, the agency's director of multifamily housing. The loans typically have 40-year terms and are designed to be "the last little bit of funding needed to make the project work," Sylvester said.

The homes can be rented only to people whose household income is 60 percent or less of the median income in the neighborhood, she said.

The loans are intended to cover a fraction of the cost of the projects, which in the first year together approach $250 million.

The $25 million for affordable housing in the fiscal 2014 capital budget, which is subject to General Assembly approval, is expected to fund the construction or renovation of 1,100 affordable rental units, the governor's office said. The allocation will also support 1,900 jobs and generate $39 million in taxes over 15 years, according to O'Malley's office.

Affordable rental housing is in short supply in Maryland, according to the housing agency. By 2015, the state will be behind on the number of needed units by nearly 124,000, the agency said.


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