Group seeks $30M to pay for additional affordable housing

Tawanda W. Johnson, The Examiner
Oct 10, 2006 5:00 AM

Howard County -
A Howard County group wants the county government to commit $30 million per year to help pay for more affordable housing. “The vast majority of homes in the county are for sale at $400,000, and frankly, it’s very difficult for individuals who don’t have six-figure incomes to purchase homes,” said James Connolly, of People Acting Together in Howard, a group consisting mostly of religious organizations that works to bring about change through county legislation. PATH wants the Howard County Council and executive candidates to change zoning regulations so developers would need to dedicate 25 percent of their units to affordable housing. Currently, they are required to set aside between 5 percent and 20 percent. Families earning about $70,000 would qualify for affordable housing.

Increasing affordable housing would benefit people who work in the county, but can’t afford to live in Howard, said Jackie Roberson, a supporter of PATH’s goals. “My daughter and son-in-law spend at least three hours per day traveling back and forth to and from Baltimore County their teaching jobs in the county,” she said. Council Member Calvin Ball, D-District 2, who is seeking to retain his seat on the County Council, said he supports increasing affordable housing, but he stopped short of endorsing PATH’s specific recommendations. “When we make decisions, we should carefully consider the impact on every Howard County resident and, if we’re being visionaries, future county residents,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to seeing recommendations of the county’s affordable housing task force on the issue. A housing bill Ball sponsored died because critics said it would increase residential density without public feedback.

The proposal would have allowed partnerships between the Howard County Housing Commission and private investors to boost affordable housing. PATH organizer Hector Rodriguez said the organization, which held its most recent meeting Sunday at Oakland Mills High School, would continue to develop ideas to address the housing as well as other issues. (George Hagegeorge/For The Examiner) Hundreds of Howard County residents heard political candidates’ views on various issues at a People Acting Together in Howard meeting Sunday at Oakland Mills High School in Columbia.











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People Acting Together in Howard