Housing fund shows real leadership in Baltimore

Members of Housing For All want to highlight the political leadership in the recent agreement to invest unprecedented funds in Baltimore neighborhoods and affordable homes as reported by The Baltimore Sun (“Baltimore agrees to ‘historic’ funding of affordable housing,” Aug. 13).

President John F. Kennedy noted: “A [person] does what [they] must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.”

By this measure, the introduction by Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Councilman John Bullock of the Fund the Trust Act, CB 18-0221, in April 2018 with all members of the council as co-sponsors was an act of great political courage. They recognized that fair, affordable housing for Baltimore residents is the cornerstone of equitable development in our city, and they acted despite the opposition they encountered. This moral integrity opened political space for what many considered impossible: a dedicated revenue stream for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund passed with 83 percent of the vote in 2016, and Council President Young and the City Council have been determined to take that mandate to the next level.

Mayor Catherine Pugh has also been committed to a revenue source for the fund. She and her team committed significant additional resources and negotiated an agreement to amend the existing bill that will ultimately generate an average of $20 million annually to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Based on work done by similar funds in other cities, we estimate that over 10 years this legislation and agreement could:

  • Create or preserve over 4,000 affordable rental and homeownership opportunities.
  • Prevent eviction and homelessness for over 4,600 Baltimore families.
  • Rehabilitate over 1,600 vacant properties.
  • Provide mobility and housing counseling support to over 6,000 families.
  • Repair or modify 1,000 homes for seniors and persons with disabilities.
  • Support multiple community land trusts and employ over 8,500 constructions workers.

We want to thank the City Council and Mayor Pugh for their dedication to this effort. We look forward to the committee hearing on Sept. 27 and speedy passage of the amended bill in what is truly a historic commitment to work toward making affordable housing available to all Baltimore residents and improving the quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Members of Housing For All, Baltimore

Signers include C. Matthew Hill of the Public Justice Center, Odette Ramos of the Community Development Network, Jay Hutchins of Maryland Working Families, Amanda Destefano of United Workers, Caryn York of Job Opportunities Task Force, Robin McKinney of CASH Campaign of Maryland, Kevin Lindamood of Health Care for the Homeless, Benjamin Orr of Maryland Center on Economic Policy, Mike Posko of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, Joann Levy of Strong City Baltimore, Ray Kelly of No Boundaries Coalition of Central West Baltimore, Kristine Dunkerton of Community Law Center, Taylor Smith-Hams of CCAN Action Fund, Michael Scott of Equity Matters, Garrick R. Good of North East Housing Initiative, Donna Blackwell of York Road Partnership, Jamal Jones of Baltimore Algebra Project, Lisa Ward of Innovative Housing Institute, Antonia Fasanelli of Homeless Persons Representation Project, Peter Sabonis of the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, Blair Franklin of Youth Empowered Society, Beth Benner of Women’s Housing Coalition, Molly Amster of Jews United for Justice, Rianna Eckel of Food & Water Watch, Glenn Smith of Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation, Barbara Samuels of the ACLU of Maryland, Janet Eveland of Action Baybrook and Jennifer Kunze of Clean Water Action.

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