Baltimore to receive $6.8 million of HUD grant


Baltimore will receive $6.8 million for low- and moderate-income housing development as part of a $13.2 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant to Maryland.

Baltimore County will receive $1.63 million, and $625,000 will go to Anne Arundel County. The state government will receive a $4.15 million grant for use in other parts of Maryland.

The Home Investment Partnership program -- or HOME grants -- will allow some of the state's local governments to offer home ownership to low-income residents, provided the federal government eases tight restrictions that have limited the use of HOME funds in the past.

City officials were criticized in February for a failure to spend $10 million in HOME money, but they blamed bureaucratic regulations. City officials say that HOME dollars would enhance development in neighborhoods such as Sandtown Winchester and East Baltimore.

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who heads the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds HUD, said the grants will clear the way for improvements in low-income housing and provide homeownership opportunities for many.

"These funds are important to Maryland families who want to practice self-help," said Ms. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat. "The HOME program helps families by providing them with assistance to own or rent decent housing."

City and federal officials have criticized the HOME program for its stringent regulations, which hampered spending of HOME grants made under the Bush administration.

In February, HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros said that to date $6 billion in HOME money had been distributed to U.S. cities, but only a small portion was spent because of the bureaucratic snags. Mr. Cisneros vowed during his first week in office to ease those requirements during his tenure.

The city applied for the new HOME funds last year as part of the comprehensive housing affordability strategy, said Bill Toohey, a spokesman for Ms. Mikulski.

The state's HOME money will be used to acquire, rehabilitate and construct housing for low- and moderate-income families. The money also might be used to assist rental and owner-occupied housing, and first-time home buyers.

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