Housing program enrollment is open

The Baltimore Sun

People interested in trying to buy or rent a home using Howard County's Moderate Income Housing Unit program have until Jan. 31 to enroll before the next lottery Feb. 25. The county is holding a workshop for prospective buyers at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 in the Banneker Room - the County Council chambers in the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.

Townhouses and apartments are available at Belmont Station, a large development along U.S. 1 north of Route 175. Townhouses and condominium apartments are also becoming available at Elkridge Crossing, off of Montgomery Road at U.S. 1, the site of the old Elkridge drive-in theater. In addition, rental apartments are nearing completion at Ashbury Courts, a mixed-use apartment complex in the median of U.S. 1 in North Laurel. The county expects 51 units to be available for purchase and 53 apartments to be available for rent during the next few months.

To qualify, applicants must live or work in Howard County and have incomes that do not exceed the program's limits. For a family of four, buyers may earn up to $75,408, while renters can earn up to $55,556. Prices range from about $110,000 for a two-bedroom condominium to $225,000 for a three-bedroom townhouse. Rents range from $1,060 to $1,640, including utilities.

If more people apply and are prequalified than the 15 units expected to be available, a lottery will be held in late February to award the units to buyers and renters.

Howard County law requires developers to include some lower-priced units among the homes they build in certain zones, which is part of the county's attempt to ensure housing for working families and senior citizens with moderate incomes. Enrollment periods are held for one month each quarter of the year.

"Many of the people who grew up or work in Howard County cannot afford to live here. Often, they can only dream of living near their work," said County Executive Ken Ulman. "This program is designed to help bridge the affordability gap."

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