ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced plans to submit a request to the Howard County Council to reorganize the County’s Departments of Community Resources and Services (DCRS), County Administration (DCA), and Housing and Community Development (DHCD). These efforts build on Ball’s recent plan for the establishment of an Office of Agriculture that will help develop and promote agricultural learning and agri-recreation among residents and visitors.

Every day, we strive to ensure that we are creating a better future not just overall, but for all. Now, we must meet the moment to embrace tomorrow’s opportunities through the bold solutions of today and that is what we are accomplishing by establishing these new Offices that create greater efficiency and capacity. Transforming government operations during this pivotal time is necessary to secure the best opportunities for our current and future generations.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

Currently listed under DCRS, Ball has requested that the County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) be elevated as its own office, directly under the County Administration. OCP investigates and conciliates complaints of deceptive or unfair trade practices, and in the past several years, its caseload has grown and become more interrelated with other constituent- and enforcement-related services handled by other County agencies. This includes the Office of Human Rights and Equity and the Office of Law. In examining the structure of other consumer protection offices throughout the state, it was determined that it would be most beneficial to elevate OCP from within DCRS to achieve the County’s objective of streamlining constituent cases, referrals, and enforcement actions.

The work of OCP changes lives because it rights many consumer wrongs experienced by our residents. Our staff of three handles close to 1,400 consumer protection inquiries annually; and provides consumer education, scam alerts and resolution assistance. Taking this Office to a new level will only better the experience for those who look to us for help.

Jackie R. Scott
Director, Department of Community Resources and Services

With OCP as a new office under County Administration, Ball hopes to centralize responses and guidance for constituents, elevate the importance of consumer protection as a critical County service, expand the County’s role in formulating policy and programmatic initiatives for consumers, and enhance consumer and business education and outreach through partnerships with the Office of Public Information. Additionally, all three current full-time positions would move to the new office, the OCP Administrator position would be reclassed, and a new Division of Landlord-Tenant Affairs would be established, creating three new positions.

“Our work has grown tremendously since the pandemic, so this larger and independent office will allow us to serve more residents more efficiently,” said Tracy Rezvani, Administrator, Office of Consumer Protection. “Our continued synergy with DCRS and other partners will provide beneficial and positive impacts to our community.”

In addition, Ball is requesting that homelessness services be moved from DCRS’ Office of Community Partnerships to DHCD. Currently, homelessness and housing services reside under two different County agencies. The County believes by positioning these two service areas under one department and employing a more coordinated approach to navigate individuals through the housing continuum, will enhance and increase access to permanent housing for residents experiencing homelessness. Ultimately, by moving residents to permanent housing, there will be more opportunities for residents and families to prepare for homeownership and build generational wealth. This merger will also allow the County to create a one-stop shop for resident’s housing needs, access new funding streams for homelessness services such as HOME, CDBG and the Community Renewal Fund, and coordinate funding to nonprofits and measuring their performance across an integrated set of metrics. 

“We are excited for the homeless services team to join the Department of Housing and Community Development,” said Kelly Cimino, Director, Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development. “This change will help streamline service delivery to residents facing homelessness, create funding efficiencies, and provide additional opportunities for residents seeking affordable, permanent housing solutions, including homeownership.”   

“OCP has established a solid foundation for homeless services within the County,” said Rose Burton, Director, Office of Community Partnerships. “Working within DHCD presents a great opportunity to build upon that foundation with an increased focus on housing first, which is central to our homeless response system.”

Lastly, in late 2022, Howard County began receiving Opioid Restitution funds from the national settlement agreements. To hold the funds, which the County is expected to receive for the next 15 to 20 years, the County created an Opioid Abatement Fund. In February 2023, at the request of the County Executive, the Opioid Collaborative Community Council led a workgroup to identify an appropriate agency in the County to administer the funds. The workgroup determined DCRS was the most appropriate County agency to do so. In response, Ball is requesting to establish the Office of Opioid Restitution Fund within DCRS to administer the grant funds and staff the work of the board. In his proposed Fiscal Year 2025 operating budget, Ball plans to request funding to create three positions to staff this new office. One position will be an administrator, one position will be responsible for staffing the board and one position will be responsible for grants administration.

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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