ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today released draft regulations to expand the County’s homeownership programs and announced the County’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will be holding a public hearing on these updates on Tuesday, April 2nd at 6:00 p.m. in Room 212 of DHCD’s offices at 9820 Patuxent Woods Drive in Columbia. DHCD will gather public feedback regarding proposed amendments to its Settlement Downpayment Loan Program (SDLP) regulations and Rehabilitation Loan Fund (RLF) program regulations. 

Homeownership provides an opportunity to build equity, generation wealth and generate income. Thanks to these vital homebuying assistance programs, we are expanding opportunity for more families to be able to call Howard County home, to put down roots and to live out their dreams of owning a home. I encourage everyone to attend this public hearing to let us know just how we can further improve these programs to make everyone’s homeownership dreams a reality.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

DHCD’s SDLP provides loans to income-eligible persons who seek help in paying the down payment and/or settlement costs of the purchase of their primary residence in Howard County.  The proposed regulation changes include: 

  1. Reducing the interest rate on all SDLP loan types to a cap of three percent. This will allow homeowners to pay less interest and retain more equity when they sell their home.
  2. Adding a principal and interest forgiveness provision for the Homestarter loan type at five, 10 and 15 years. This will allow homeowners to build greater generational wealth in their homes and reduce the amount owed to the County when they sell their home. 
  3. Removing the asset requirement on the Workforce Initiative Loan. A potential homebuyer applying for a Workforce Initiative Loan will be eligible for up to $4,300 in a forgivable loan without asset qualification if they work in Howard County and meet the household income requirements. 

Potential homebuyers and realtors interested in learning more about this program should contact an SDLP approved lender for application details and  assistance. Funds are currently available to participate in this program. 

DHCD’s RLF program provides loans to income-eligible persons to help pay for home improvements, renovations or repairs. These loans can help homeowners make repairs to their homes, such as new heating and air conditioning systems, roof replacement and bathroom upgrades, to improve energy efficiency and accessibility. The proposed regulation changes include:

  1. Increasing the maximum loan amount to $50,000. 
  2. Establishing three loan tiers based on household income.
    • Tier 1 borrowers can earn up to 30 percent Area Median Income (AMI). 
      • For Tier 1 borrowers, the loan interest rate is zero percent, there are no credit score requirements or monthly payments due, and the loan balance is forgivable after five years.
    • Tier 2 borrowers earning up to 50 percent AMI. 
      • For Tier 2 borrowers, the loan interest rate is one percent, there are no monthly payments and loan is repaid when the home is sold.
  3. Tier 3 borrowers earning up to 80 percent AMI. 
    • For Tier 3 borrowers, the loan interest rate is two percent and monthly payments are required until the loan is paid in full.

Reducing the interest rate on the SDLP loans and adding a forgiveness provision for the Homestarter loan will make homeownership more attainable for potential buyers that want to move from renting to homeownership. The changes to the rehabilitation loan fund program will help existing homeowners, especially low-income seniors and persons with disabilities, qualify for these loans to make renovations that can improve the functionality and safety of their home.

Kelly Cimino
Director, Department of Housing and Community Development

Homeowners interested in applying for the RLF program are encouraged to contact DHCD’s Loan Rehabilitation Coordinator at 410-313-6333 or email [email protected] for assistance with submitting their loan rehabilitation application. Funds are currently available to participate in this program.

Copies of the proposed amendments for both the SDLP and RLF program are available for review online, as well as at DHCD’s office in Columbia, open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Those planning to attend the hearing must provide written testimony at the hearing. If you are unable to make the hearing on April 2nd, but would still like to provide testimony, you may submit written testimony to: Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development, c/o Kelly Cimino, Director, 9820 Patuxent Woods Drive, Suite 224, Columbia, MD 21046. Testimony must be received by no later than Monday, April 1st.

An interpreter for people who are deaf or hard of hearing will be available if requested seven working days prior to the meeting. Please call the Office of Public Information at 410-313-2022 (voice) or use Relay at 7-1-1, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information about these community meetings or for questions, please contact DHCD at 410-313-6318 or email [email protected].  

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications
Kelly A. Cimino, Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development

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