The purpose of this charter amendment is to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that will promote and support fair and affordable housing throughout Baltimore for extremely low income families by providing financial assistance for production, maintenance, or expansion of affordable housing; predevelopment activities; capital and operating assistance for the creation of community land trusts; affordable and fair housing related services; administrative and planning costs. The fund will be administered by Baltimore Housing and overseen by a 12 member appointed commission of community members. The reason a Charter Amendment is needed is to empower the Mayor and City Council to create and direct funds into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. At the moment, only the Mayor can direct funds.
The group of advocates known as Housing for All has collected over 18,000 signatures to put this on the ballot in November as Question J.
Vote FOR Question J on Election Day!
In The News
Why isn’t there a dedicated funding source in the Charter Amendment?
The Housing For All coalition decided not to add a funding source for 2 reasons: (a) we decided to get the initiative passed and not have to address the funding source during the signature gathering. We wanted the discussion to be about affordable housing how the fund would work. We wanted to work with the City Council on a data driven, proven funding source rather than have that discussion as part of the referendum (b) it is against the state constitution to put “appropriations” in referendum. While it is a bit vague on this point, (meaning the Constitution says referendum can’t appropriate funds to support government operations, ours is close so we wanted to stay away from this).
How is this Affordable Housing Trust Fund different from the Inclusionary Housing Law?
Inclusionary Housing is a concept that says affordable units should be included in new developments (apartments, condos, homes). Baltimore’s Inclusionary Housing law has been ineffective in producing affordable units in new developments because of provisions to hold developers harmless. In essence if the developer could not afford to build the units, the City would be obligated to pay for those units. In every case, the City granted the developer a waiver on the units. Councilman Bill Henry is working with advocates (many of whom are in the Housing for All coalition) on repairs to the existing law (taking out the hold harmless provision) and providing a direct funding source for the Affordable Housing Fund which is in the Inclusionary Housing law (it is separate from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund). In addition, the Councilman is considering income targets as part of the law, and that is about 60% of AMI.
The Affordable Housing Trust Fund would not require units be built in new market rate developments. The Fund would be available for all kinds of affordable housing and affordable housing services serving 50% or below AMI with most of the funding being targeted to 30% or below AMI. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund also has a commission appointed by the Mayor to work with Baltimore Housing to distribute the funding.
Why an Affordable Housing Trust Fund?
There is an affordable housing crisis in Baltimore City.
- 53% of city renters and 40% of homeowners pay more than one-third of their income in housing, putting them at risk for housing instability and even homelessness.
- In Baltimore, on any given night, 3000 people, including children and their families, are homeless.
- 25,000 Baltimore City households, more than half with children, are on the waiting list for desperately needed federal housing assistance, where they will wait as much as ten years.
- They are the lucky ones — another 50,000 households applied but were turned away from the waiting list.
What is an Affordable Housing Trust Fund?
Housing trust funds help meet this need. They are entities established by local or state governments that receive ongoing public funding to support the preservation and production of affordable housing and increase opportunities for people to access decent affordable homes. There are over 750 cities, counties and states that have Housing Trust Funds.
What will an Affordable Housing Trust provide?
- Loans or grant for the planning, production, maintenance, or expansion of affordable housing for renters and homeowners;
- Capital and operating assistance for the creation of community land trusts that will develop, own or operate permanently affordable rental housing and assist low and moderate-income residents to build a path to homeownership;
- Affordable and fair housing-related services to persons of low and moderate income to assist them in obtaining housing and remaining stably housed.
Who will be served with this Trust Fund?
All of these services are available through the Trust Fund for very low and extremely low income households.
Who will run the Trust Fund?
The Baltimore Housing with a community-based commission appointed by the Mayor that will oversee the Trust Fund. Allocations will be determined by Baltimore Housing.
Who will fund the Trust Fund?
This Charter Amendment does not have funds attached to it. The Amendment allows the Trust Fund to receive public and private funding.
Which organizations support this effort?
- ACLU of Maryland
- Algebra Project
- Baltimore Housing Roundtable
- CASA de Maryland
- Communities United
- Community Development Network of Maryland
- Community Law Center
- Community Science
- Enterprise Community Partners
- Homeless Persons Representation Project
- Maryland Center on Economic Policy
- Maryland Community Economic Development Clinic- University of Maryland School of Law
- Public Justice Center
- Right to Housing Alliance
- United Workers
- Working Families