County told to open door to poor Affordable housing in short supply


Advocates for affordable housing were urged last night to continue their work to make room for less affluent people in Howard, one of the state's richest counties.

Paul Brophy, vice chairman of the Enterprise Foundation, also told the annual meeting of the Howard County Housing Alliance that affluent people in their suburban enclaves cannot escape the problems of central cities.

"As a country, it is clear that the problems of central cities are not escapable," Mr. Brophy said. "We all have an interest in trying to deal with problems [of people] at the bottom of society."

The Columbia-based Enterprise Foundation assists nonprofit housing groups to develop decent and affordable housing.

Citing a 1991 Enterprise Foundation report, Mr. Brophy said that one in 10 low-income families will be unable to find affordable housing in Howard in the next 10 years.

With more businesses moving their operations from the cities to the suburbs, the counties must see to it that entry-level employees have places to live, Mr. Brophy told members of the alliance, which works to build affordable housing.

Mr. Brophy told members that they must not be discouraged despite the failure in January of legislation intended to increase the county's stock of affordable housing by 250 units a year.

Under the "moderately priced dwelling unit" bill, sponsored by County Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, developers would have been allowed to increase the number of units in their developments by 20 percent if they agreed to set aside 10 percent of the units for low- and moderate-income families.

"Don't let the defeat of the bill be distressing, but let it be a reminder and a spur to push forward the affordable housing agenda in Howard County," Mr. Brophy said.

Following his remarks, the alliance presented awards to four people who have made "outstanding" contributions toward the development of affordable housing.

* John G. Brandenburg was president of the nonprofit Columbia Housing Corp. from 1982 to 1992. The corporation manages and develops housing for low- and moderate-income families and developmentally disabled adults. Mr. Brandenburg is now a housing consultant to nonprofit corporations and private developers.

* May Ruth Seidel has worked for more than 20 years encouraging the development of affordable housing. She was a founding member of the county Housing Alliance, and has served on several county boards and commissions dealing with housing issues.

* Ruth Keeton, during her tenure on the County Council from 1974 to 1989, was a leader in working for more affordable housing. Mrs. Keeton, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, resigned from the council in 1989 because of her illness. Her husband, Morris, accepted her award.

* James W. Rouse, 79, is the founder of the city of Columbia and headed the Rouse Co. for 40 years until his retirement in 1979. In 1982, he founded the Enterprise Foundation, of which he is now chairman, and the Enterprise Development Co. Mr. Rouse is a nationally recognized expert in the development of affordable housing, and has served on several national housing task forces and commissions.

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