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March 2, 2004

UMBC Study Highlights Need for Affordable Housing in Maryland

Housing in Maryland is getting increasingly expensive, and more needs to be done by state and metropolitan county governments to provide adequate, affordable housing for residents - many of them vital service providers like police, firefighters, nurses and teachers - according to a study by graduate students in the UMBC Department of Public Policy presented at a meeting of the Governor's Commission on Housing Policy today.

The new study, Affordable Housing in Metropolitan Maryland: A Policy Analysis, examines the housing market in eight counties that make up Maryland's two urban areas (Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in metropolitan Washington, DC; Baltimore City, Anne Arundel; Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard Counties in metropolitan Baltimore).

The analysis found that existing county housing policies do not go far enough in making units affordable, and most jurisdictions are not even meeting established goals to increase the number of affordable housing units.

The lack of affordability means that many low-and-moderate income residents are being squeezed out of housing. "Too many service workers, such as teachers, nurses, police and firefighters, cannot afford to live in the jurisdiction where they serve," the study concludes. "The consequences of not acting are grave because the soaring cost of housing is unlikely to abate soon."

The report offers three recommendations for programs that could increase the availability of affordable housing in Maryland:

Increase the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust Fund (MAHT).
This fund, established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1992, provides funds to build affordable housing units. This program is attractive to all jurisdictions because it reduces the housing shortage, a major goal in housing affordability.

Expand loans for first time homebuyers.
The Community Development Administration (CDA) Maryland Mortgage Program provides low-interest loans to first-time low and moderate income homebuyers that lack affordable housing. This program is the best alternative for counties that are already heavily developed, such as Baltimore City, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery Counties, because it helps families that lack affordable rental housing to purchase homes.

Create additional incentives for the Moderately-Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU) Program.
MPDU programs require developers to sell a specific percentage of newly constructed homes as affordable units. The program is attractive in developing counties because it uses market techniques to produce affordable housing and keeps the county in control of its zoning decisions.

UMBC Public Policy graduate students analyzed affordable housing in the state as part of their Public Policy Capstone seminar, a course where students, working with faculty and outside experts in relevant fields, prepare a policy analysis of a current topic. The study is available online as a PDF file at http://www.umbc.edu/mipar.

About UMBC Public Policy Department:

The UMBC Department of Public Policy provides quality education for a diverse range of highly qualified students who wish to pursue or further a career in a public policy related area. The interdisciplinary program offers both a Master of Public Policy and a Ph.D. in Public Policy.

About Governor's Commission on Housing Policy:

Governor Ehrlich established the Governor's Commission on Housing Policy by Executive Order in March, 2003 to make recommendations to the Governor on actions that can be taken to increase affordable housing in Maryland communities. The Commission is chaired by Victor L. Hoskins, Secretary, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Posted by dwinds1 at March 2, 2004 12:00 AM