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Orchard Crossing apartments win praise


State and local officials hailed the Orchard Crossing apartment development in Ellicott City yesterday as a model for providing affordable housing in a high-income setting.

"This is the kind of development that we are very proud of," said Patricia J. Payne, secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, at yesterday's opening ceremony.

The $15 million project, now 70 percent complete, is being built in part with $10.3 million loan from the department. Howard County owns a third of the land and leased it to the developer for use for families with less than the area's median income.

Residents started moving into the 187 rental apartments between Routes 108 and 100 in Ellicott City April 22.

Half the 104 units now occupied were leased to families having incomes 60 percent or less than the Baltimore metropolitan area's median income of $49,440 for a family of four.

When the project is completed in February, 95 of the 187 units will have been leased to such families, said Earl Armiger, president of Orchard Development Co., which built the apartment complex. All the units have been leased, he said.

Officials attending yesterday's ceremonies liked what they saw.

"It's remarkable," said Ms. Payne, "a model of what can be accomplished."

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker also praised the project and said the county is "looking at a couple of other opportunities along the same lines."

Mark Sissman, president of the Enterprise Social Investment Corp., said the project is the kind of affordable housing that ought to be built because it includes people of every income group. "The challenge now is to get it occupied and run it well," he said.

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