ELLICOTT CITY, MD – – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced an inaugural investment of $5 million that will create a new Housing Opportunities Trust Fund in Howard County. The transformational fund, the first of its kind in Howard County, will be administered by the county Department of Housing and Community Development and will be used to:
- Assist first-time home buyers
- Develop, preserve, and rehab affordable housing in Howard County
- Increase affordability for low-income households
Photos of the event can be found here.
With the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund, we now have a financial tool to help implement our Housing Opportunities Master Plan – the first completed in more than a decade. We will increase homeownership opportunities, help stabilize neighborhoods, expand wealth-building for future generations, and more.
The fund will implement strategies and recommendations contained in Howard County’s Housing Opportunities Master Plan, completed last year.
With funding now in place, Howard County can invest more in already existing programs to help with homeownership and rental assistance, like the Settlement Downpayment Loan Program, the Moderate Income Housing Unit (MIHU) program, and rental subsidies.
The Housing Opportunities Master Plan (HOMP) identified current housing challenges in Howard County and provides a clear strategy to improve access to housing and guide housing-related decisions for the next 5 to 10 years.
The Master Plan identifies three overarching strategies Howard County can employ to improve housing opportunities:
- Revising land use, planning, and zoning regulations to improve the availability, accessibility, affordability, and diversity of housing;
- Supporting housing stability through the improvement of existing policies and programs and the creation of new ones; AND
- Addressing both housing and infrastructure needs in Howard County to ensure that neither form of demand eclipses the other.
Howard County has already made investments in affordable housing developments to serve populations in need by supporting developments like Patuxent Commons, a 74-unit affordable housing project in Columbia that will support people with disabilities. County Executive Ball championed the use of Department of Housing and Community Development grant funding and worked with the County Council to approve tax assistance for Patuxent Commons. The development is expected to begin construction next year and be open to residents in 2024.
“I’ve always been a firm believer that people should be able to live in the community that they serve and that they work in. Who lives here reflects who we are, and it reflects our community’s values,” said Senator Clarence Lam. “If we hope to continue to be a diverse and inclusive community, it is important for us to ensure that there is inclusivity and diversity of those who are able to live here and it is reflective in our housing policies.”
“I’m proud to have sponsored this bill and grateful for my colleagues who supported it, and also the housing advocates who helped make this piece of legislation possible,” said Delegate Jessica Feldmark. “This is a critical first step in moving toward housing opportunity for all in Howard County. There is much more work to be done. If inclusion is a core value of ours, we need to be willing to do the work.”
“Since the completion of the Housing Opportunities Master Plan in 2021, we have been working to create and fund a housing trust fund,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Director Kelly Cimino. “We appreciate the support of the advocates and organizations at the event today as we continue to work together to increase housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents in the County.”
“The Trust Fund is a significant investment and truly a life-changing tool to address the need for greater numbers of affordable units in Howard County,” said Housing Commission Board Chair Elizabeth Homan. “With the trust fund, Howard County can provide stable, affordable housing for families who want to live and work in Howard County.”
“It is a privilege and a pleasure for the Coalition to share in this moment of collaborative success,” said Jackie Eng of the Housing Affordability Coalition. “It is not our hope nor our dream, rather it is our expectation that in 5, 10, or 20 years from now, our community will see tangible evidence that the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund has proven its value – that value being measured by exponentially greater access to stable and safe housing for the very low, low and moderate income households in our community that are critical to ensuring an economically, socially, an culturally healthy Howard County.”
“PATH serves as a community organization that keeps our ears to the ground, and we come here today to celebrate this important initial step of the Housing Trust Fund for people who are in desperate need of housing,” said Pastor Tyrone Jones of PATH.