City neighborhoods need help

Can Maryland's governor adequately fund community development?

The Hogan administration deserves credit for its recent focus on community development challenges, especially in Baltimore City. But as a recent editorial pointed out, Gov. Larry Hogan is mainly repackaging existing funds, not dedicating new resources to meet the challenges ("Hogan's budget and Baltimore," Jan. 25).

The General Assembly's nonpartisan budget analysts determined that of the $714 million earmarked by the state over five years for the proposed Project CORE in Baltimore, only $75 million represents new state funding, spread over five years. The remaining funds were already planned and in the pipeline.

We urge state officials to allocate critically needed new resources to support and spur community development. Jurisdictions across Maryland need new state support to revitalize struggling communities, rebuild abandoned properties and generate new economic activity.

The state already has viable programs through which additional capital funding can flow. The Community Legacy program, Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund, the Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative, Rental Housing Works and the Shelter and Transitional Housing program are proven initiatives that are providing vital funding to support local community development. Many of these programs are part of Gov. Larry Hogan's package for Baltimore.

In addition, the Community Development Network of Maryland is promoting a new Community Development Fund that could generate millions in operating and capital support for community development across the state. This new fund would provide critical support for building much-needed affordable housing, revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing family-stability programs in our state.

We urge Governor Hogan and the General Assembly to expand funding for community development. Many communities in Maryland face urgent needs. New state resources can help give residents and businesses in these areas new opportunities to thrive.

Odette Ramos, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Community Development Network of Maryland which represents 180 community development organizations and agencies across the state.

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