Terry Hickey has been named Baltimore County’s first director of its inaugural Department of Housing and Community Development.
Hickey formerly led the Mayor’s Office of Human Services in Baltimore City from 2017 until he joined county government as deputy director of the housing and community development program.
That program originally functioned under the Department of Health and Human Services before County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. created the county’s housing department in May.
The department will be dedicated to housing, eviction and foreclosure prevention and community revitalization. Baltimore County is the last of the state’s most populous jurisdictions to establish a housing department after it perpetuated decades of policies and practices that segregated Black residents.
Hickey — who also used to serve as president and chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake — will lead the department as it assumes oversight of the county’s 2016 agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to dismantle discriminatory housing practices by expanding the number of affordable rental homes in prosperous areas.
Hickey’s appointment was unanimously confirmed during a virtual County Council meeting Tuesday evening. His son joined him on the video-sharing program.
“I’ve been very impressed with your dad,” council chair Julian Jones, a Democrat, told Hickey’s son.
“To be quite frank, we’ve been over-performing,” he added.
Olszewski in a news release lauded Hickey as a “phenomenal civil servant, who has worked tirelessly across our region to ensure residents have secure housing and safe communities.”
Much of Hickey’s work as the housing program’s deputy director was spent addressing home insecurity wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Hickey led efforts to dole out millions in eviction prevention money, helping upwards of 1,500 families stay in their homes, according to the county.
He also helped develop the county’s Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention, or STEP, program, under which the county used $4.2 million in federal dollars to pay back rent to landlords who agreed to discount the amount owed.
The program recently earned a national award from the National Association of Counties for innovation and has been identified as a statewide model.
Hickey’s salary was not immediately available Tuesday night.