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New report urges Baltimore County to build more affordable housing countywide

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Posted at 4:56 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 16:56:49-04

A committee convened by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is urging the county to be more proactive in creating affordable housing - similar to how Howard and Montgomery counties have been.

Olszewski said today he will "swiftly" move forward with the new recommendations, and will push towards the goal of supporting 1,000 affordable rental units by 2027.

The affordable housing workgroup was created last spring, and released its report today.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the report said the county needs more affordable housing, and recommends allowing affordable housing in all "opportunity areas" - generally wealthier areas that have traditionally had very little affordable housing, if any.

Opportunity Areas (composite). Darker areas are "higher opportunity."

The committee notes that the county has seen a growth in both large, multigenerational families, and in single-person households.

There were 36 overall recommendations, including formally defining "affordable housing" in the county code, and allowing multifamily developments in some commercial or industrial zones.

The county has so far approved 544 affordable rental units, out of its goal of 1,000 units by 2027.

Olszewski said in a statement:

Baltimore County is a place for everyone, and ensuring access to attainable housing, providing community support, and developing stronger neighborhoods is a key priority for my administration. We have made significant progress in this endeavor, and the Work Group’s report is sure to be a guide as we continue expanding the availability of quality housing for every resident of our County. These recommendations arrive at a critical time, when the need for affordable housing access is at an all-time high.

Affordable housing has proven controversial in the county in the past, including in 2019 when some residents protested a bill that makes it illegal for landlords to turn down prospective tenants who use a housing voucher or other forms of public assistance.

Meanwhile, this spring, Gov. Larry Hogan delegated $200 million in state funds to build more than 6,000 new affordable-housing units statewide.