Baltimore City Council votes down inclusionary housing proposal

Councilman Henry's push for new affordable housing law is defeated by the City Council.

The City Council defeated a bill Monday that would have required developers who receive taxpayer dollars to build housing for lower-income families.

The council voted 4-9 to defeat the bill. Two members abstained.

Councilman Bill Henry of North Baltimore pushed for the legislation to replace an existing inclusionary housing law that is universally regarded as ineffective.

"This is a bill that fixes that law in the major ways," said Henry, chairman of the council's housing committee. "It will not go as far as many advocates would like affordable housing to go and it moves a little quick for some in the development community, but I believe it is a fair compromise."

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young was among the members who voted against the bill, which was up for preliminary approval.

Young has been concerned about whether the council had enough time in the current term to vet such a sweeping program. His spokesman has said Young supports a new inclusionary housing law, but wants to take time "and make sure we get it absolutely right." A new council will take over in December.

The existing law has produced fewer than 40 lower-income units over nearly a decade, primarily because the city was unable to compensate developers for building the housing.

Henry introduced a companion bill Monday to slightly increase the recordation and transfer taxes to help pay for new affordable housing units. It is unclear whether he will pursue that legislation.

Also voting against the inclusionary housing bill were council members Eric Costello, Robert Curran, Helen Holton, James B. Kraft, Sharon Green Middleton, Edward Reisinger, Rochelle "Rikki" Spector and William "Pete" Welch.

Voting along with Henry in favor were Warren Branch, Mary Pat Clarke and Nick Mosby.

Councilmen Brandon Scott and Carl Stokes did not vote.

In a related effort, a coalition of affordable-housing advocates successfully fought to put before voters in November a ballot question to create a trust fund to pay for more affordable housing. If approved, the advocates must still persuade city officials to put money in the fund.

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