As part of the development process for a proposed affordable housing development in East Towson, a community input meeting has been scheduled for later this month.
Red Maple Place, a development proposal for 413 E. Pennsylvania Ave., would create 56 affordable housing units on a 2.5-acre parcel of land. The project is being proposed by Homes For America, an Annapolis-based nonprofit housing developer that would manage the complex once completed.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at The Conference Center at Sheppard Pratt, 6591 N. Charles St. Community input meetings are part of the development process in Baltimore County.
County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson, said the Red Maple Place project was an opportunity for Baltimore County to “get it right” when it comes to developing affordable housing. Decreasing the footprint of the building by either constructing it taller or by including fewer units would help to alleviate community concerns that the East Towson area is already overdeveloped, he said.
“When I talk about affordable housing, I lament the fact that a lot of the housing is not accessible to transit or economic opportunities,” Marks said.
In a statement, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said officials “must do our part to ensure equitable and affordable housing in Baltimore County.”
“We are considering community concerns regarding the project and are committed to ensuring that Red Maple Place will be an asset to the community and the residents of our county as a high-quality, affordable housing option,” he said.
Baltimore County is under a federal agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to further the private development of 1,000 affordable units over the next decade.
Also under the federal agreement, the county must consider legislation requiring landlords to accept tenants with subsidized housing vouchers. Olszewski has given strong backing to the bill; similar legislation was defeated in Baltimore County by a 6-1 council vote in 2016.
Marks said he is opposed to Olszewski’s housing bill, calling it a “property rights” issue.
In parts of his district, especially around Towson University, Marks has seen what he calls an “over-rentalization” of neighborhoods, where homes are bought and then rented out to temporary tenants, instead of purchased and lived in by homeowners.
Marks said he worries that the housing voucher bill would increase the number of rentals and he would rather see better-developed projects like Red Maple Place than the passage of Olszewski’s bill.