Objections to housing project don't add up [Letter]

November 21, 2013

The Baltimore County Council ("Baltimore County Council rejects low-income housing project," Nov. 19) is ignoring the needs of their poorest and most vulnerable constituents.

Baltimore County's need for affordable housing is so great that even 50 times 50 units would not be nearly enough to meet the need. Due to the flawed and faulty reasoning of the council, these housing opportunities will be denied Baltimore County's financially struggling families.

Let us look at just a few of their objections.

First is the statement that the closest elementary school to the project is already overcrowded. On Oct. 16, the Baltimore County public schools study committee released a document that supports school redistricting to relieve overcrowding in over-extended schools. In the several years it would take to construct this housing, the council, working together with the school system, could address this concern.

Second, the project location does not fall within the mapped boundaries of a "Community of Opportunity" area. Really? Shouldn't the council want every community to be a place of opportunity?

Third, that the location selected does not offer easy access to public transportation or a grocery store. While these are at least reasonable concerns, many parts of the county have poor access to groceries and public transportation. And while this situation may be burdensome, the council could certainly develop creative public-private partnerships to address the shopping and transportation issues. I guarantee that if the council polled homeless families living in county shelters, or those being evicted because they cannot afford their rent, and asked if they'd be willing to live in brand new subsidized housing that is nor particularly close to a bus line or a supermarket, they would have few hesitations.

Given that there is no public housing in the county at all and that very few landlords and complexes accept housing vouchers, the County Council should be doing everything in its power to encourage the construction of affordable housing. No site is ever going to be perfect.

Lauren Siegel, Baltimore

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