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Howard neighborhood revitalization loan program delayed

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman will delay introducing legislation to fund a neighborhood revitalization loan program, according to his office.

Kittleman last week announced that he would look into the program, RENEW Howard, which would leverage Howard County Housing Commission bonds to provide $20 million in loans for Howard County homebuyers interested in renovating or expanding an aging house or townhouse. The idea was proposed by the Howard County Housing Commission.

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Kittleman sent letters to local organizations advocating for affordable housing for their feedback on the proposal, according to a county spokesman. He initially hoped to submit the bill by the County Council's pre-file deadline on June 25.

Friday, press secretary Andy Barth said Kittleman wanted more time to work out the details. He confirmed the legislation had not been pre-filed.

Barth said Kittleman had heard concerns from housing advocates that RENEW Howard's funding method might impact affordable housing initiatives in the county. Draft legislation for the program committed the county to paying 50 percent of its fee-in-lieu fund toward debt service on the housing commisison bonds. Developers can pay the fee-in-lieu instead of building moderate income housing units, or MIHUs, as part of new housing developments.

While affordable housing units are available to people who make between 60 and 80 percent of the area median income, the neighborhood revitalization loan program would be open to those who make up to 120 percent of the measure. In Howard County, the area median income is $109,865.

"Allan wanted to be sure that the use of those MIHU funds would be consistent with the goal of providing affordable housing, and, in talking to some of the organizations that are strong supporters of that, realized there was some concern," Barth said.

In an email to the Housing Commission on Thursday, county policy director Carl DeLorenzo said he would be working with commissioners and affordable housing advocacy organizations to amend the draft legislation.

A new version will likely be submitted at the next pre-file opportunity in late August, he said.

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