In reading recent articles about the vote by Baltimore County Council to reject state funding for a planned affordable housing development in Rosedale, I felt troubled that certain unfounded attitudes toward voucher holders prevailed and am hopeful that there is an increased awareness that more affordable housing is needed throughout the county.
I was troubled by remarks that crimes go hand-in-hand with voucher holders and that it doesn't matter whether "Section 8" occupancy is just a few residents or many more, the community will be inundated with crime ("Baltimore County Council poised to block low-income housing Nov. 18). Only recently have reputable research groups begun to study the correlation between Section 8 occupancy and crime, and they find no evidence that an increase in households using vouchers directly results in increased crime in a neighborhood. Instead, they find that households who would rather use their vouchers in a safe, opportunity-rich neighborhood very frequently have to use their vouchers in communities that already have a high rate of crime.
My hopeful feelings stem from comments made by Councilwoman Cathy Bevins and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz after the vote was taken ("Kamenetz: Council sent 'wrong message' by blocking housing project,http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-kamenetz-housing-20131120%2C0%2C1543974.story Nov. 20) Though Ms. Bevins and Mr. Kamenetz had opposing views on the planned development, she said that the administration needs to figure out how to spread affordable housing throughout the county, and Mr. Kamenetz said that affordable housing needs to be accessible across the county and that he is "exploring a variety of strategies for more affordable housing. He also said that if the General Assembly does not pass legislation next year that prevents housing discrimination against people using vouchers, he might consider a local measure to accomplish this.
In the past, the program "Beyond the Boundaries" helped members of diverse Catholic parishes to have sister relationships, which was very helpful in establishing a rapport that went a long way toward breaking down stereotypical barriers. More things like this today are necessary not only in Baltimore County but in Baltimore and in the whole region so that what Mr. Kamenetz says he is exploring will have the broad support to actually happen.
Brother Jerry O'Leary, Baltimore
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