Howard County announced historic investments totaling $16.5 million in several housing initiatives, with many aimed at increasing affordable homeownership for moderate-income households. It will be directed towards the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund, homeownership and rehabilitation programs, and rental assistance.

The county’s Fund, established last year, promotes equitable access to affordable housing for households of limited income. County Executive Calvin Ball proposed $10 million in funding for the Fund in his fiscal 2024 budget, which represented a 50% increase from last year’s budget.

Ball’s announcement occurred at Roslyn Rise, a mixed-income redevelopment that will provide more than 100 affordable units across the income spectrum. Roslyn Rise is being constructed by Enterprise Community Development; it will include a total of 152 mixed-income units ranging from one to four bedrooms.

A 7-member Housing Opportunities Trust Fund Advisory Committee was established earlier this month. The committee will review applications, make funding recommendations to the Housing and Community Development Board, and make recommendations to Ball about future funding needs.

The announcement also includes $6.5 million for homeownership and housing rehabilitation initiatives aimed at increasing access to homeownership for limited income homebuyers. This investment will help more families achieve homeownership and wealth-building opportunities through the Settlement Downpayment Loan Program and the Housing Assistance Program. During the last five years, nearly 400 families have accessed homeownership in Howard County with assistance from these programs.

“We understand that the response to the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund’s first Notice of Funding Availability has well exceeded the initial fund seeding of $5 million in fiscal 2023,” said Jackie Eng, coordinator of the Howard County Housing Affordability Coalition. “This response underscores the need for a more robustly financed fund. The proposed $10 million fiscal 2024 investment is a major step in expanding the capacity of the fund to meet the critical demand for affordable rental housing, homeownership and other supports to meet the housing demands of our county’s low- and moderate-income families.”

Additionally, Ball has proposed $1 million in funding to bolster rental assistance programs. Since the start of the pandemic, Howard County has distributed more than $25 million to process 3,800 applications for past due rent and utility payments, among other needs.