Group hopes to provide affordable housing in downtown Columbia

A group of local housing advocates have put together the necessary documents to present to the County Council for recognition as the nonprofit that will provide affordable housing in downtown Columbia.

A resolution was prefiled before the council last week to recognize the group, called the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation, as the nonprofit entity that will administer affordable housing funds for downtown Columbia, most of which are accumulated through required developer contributions. The corporation would use the funds to assist developers in providing affordable housing units, provide low-income residents with rental assistance or homeownership loans and aid in eviction prevention and foreclosure assistance.


The Downtown Columbia Plan, which the council approved in 2010 to guide the 30-year redevelopment of downtown Columbia development, called for the creation of a nonprofit Downtown Columbia Community Housing Foundation "to satisfy all affordable housing requirements for downtown."

In July, the council passed legislation forming the Downtown Columbia Partnership, a commercial district management authority that will operate as a public instrument of the county to conduct marketing, maintenance, security, transportation and other services in downtown Columbia. The legislation called for the partnership to collect the required developer contributions for the affordable housing fund and contract with a nonprofit to use the money to provide affordable housing services in downtown Columbia.


The legislation said the council should accept applications from groups seeking to form the nonprofit with "representation from private entities, county and other public agencies, the community developer, organizations and individuals who are generally able to promote (a full-spectrum of affordable housing)."

Following adoption of that legislation, the Full Spectrum Housing Coalition, a group that has long advocated for a wide range of affordable housing options in downtown Columbia, started looking for people who could serve on the nonprofit.

"We kept our ears to the ground, talked to lots of people," coalition member Grace Kubofcik said.

After beginning the process of filing an application with the council for recognition of the nonprofit, Kubofcik heard that Howard County Housing Director Tom Carbo was also working to develop a group that could serve as the nonprofit.

Kubofcik, Carbo and the people they had been working with on their respective applications decided to join forces.

"Both groups had attracted excellent, excellent people to serve on this board," Kubofcik said.

The group combined their efforts and submitted an application to the council for the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation. The application included a list of 14 proposed directors, proposed bylaws and a draft memorandum of understanding between the corporation and the county's housing department that says the department can provide staff to assist the corporation.

The council has the authority to approve the application as is, approve it with conditions or deny it, according to council Chairwoman Mary Kay Sigaty.


"We're going to have to do a good review of the documents that they sent us," she said. "We're going to want to make sure we believe that the organization they put together has the expertise to do the job."

'Very powerful group'

Kubofcik said the 14 individuals proposed to serve as the corporation directors meet the criteria the council established for the nonprofit.

"It's a very powerful group of people," she said.

The proposed board members are:

• Roy Appletree, president of the Vantage House Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Vantage House retirement community in Columbia, and former assistant executive director of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission;


• Paul Casey, an attorney who practices in real estate and public finance transaction;

• Jesse Chancellor, former president of Community Investment Partners Inc., the investment advisory subsidiary of the Calvert Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial services for disadvantaged communities;

• Peter Engle, deputy commissioner of Baltimore Housing, the city's public housing authority;

• Bethany Hooper, founder of real estate development company BHH Inc. and president of BHH property management company HAI Management Inc., which manages affordable housing properties;

• Andrea Ingram, executive director of Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, a nonprofit that provides crisis intervention services, emergency shelter programs and homeless outreach services;

• Brian Kim, principal of Cornerstone Development LLC, a real estate development and finance firm;


• Eric Lewis, senior vice president at BB&T who serves as the bank's area executive for Howard County;

• Maria Miller, a senior development director with The Shelter Group, a real estate development and property management company specializing in multifamily and senior living communities;

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• David Raderman, an attorney who practices in tax and business transactions;

• Bruce Rothschild, senior vice president and general counsel for Enterprise Community Investment Inc. — a subsidiary of Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a nonprofit formed by James and Patty Rouse to support development of low-income housing — which provides equity and debt capital to developers of affordable and low-income housing;

• Michael Skojec, an attorney specializing in real estate and construction litigation;

• Russell Snyder, president and CEO of Volunteers of America Chesapeake Inc., a faith-based nonprofit that provides housing and supportive services to the homeless, veterans, seniors, the mentally disabled, persons suffering from mental illness and ex-offenders; and,


• Patricia Sylvester, director of multi-family housing for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

In addition to these people, one council member, County Executive Ken Ulman and Howard Hughes senior vice president John DeWolf — or a representative they appoint — will serve as ex-officio directors. They will not get to vote on corporation decisions.

The council is scheduled to officially introduce the resolution at its Oct. 1 meeting, hold a public hearing on the resolution Oct. 15 and a vote on it Nov. 15. All meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.