A suite of policy and programmatic initiatives unveiled in October are aimed at addressing housing affordability in Howard County.

Introduced by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, who was joined by Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day, Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development Director Kelly Cimino, and other community leaders and advocates, the Housing Opportunities Meant for Everyone, or HOME, package includes:

● Local legislation to prohibit rent gouging and bringing stability and predictability to the rental housing market. By setting annual rent increases to the lesser of inflation plus five percent, or 10 percent, tenants will be protected from excessive and extreme rent increases. This legislation will be filed with the County Council for consideration in November.

● An expansion of Howard County’s Right to Purchase law, allowing the county and the Howard County Housing Commission to partner with nonprofit and private organizations to purchase existing rental properties and convert market rate units to affordable. This legislation will be filed with the County Council for consideration in November.

● State legislation to expand the Maryland payment-in-lieu-of-taxes law to enable Howard County to offer tax credits to property owners for the creation of new affordable housing units. This legislation will be considered by the Howard County Delegation during the 2024 General Assembly Session.

● Security deposit and rental assistance programs for students and families experiencing homelessness. An investment of $2 million will be used to provide rental subsidies and security deposit guarantee to Howard County Public School System families experiencing homelessness, as well as Howard Community College students of eligible income who are seeking housing assistance.

● Home accessibility modifications for seniors and people with disabilities through a $100,000 investment. The Accessibility Modifications Program will provide $100,000 to Accessible Resources for Independence to assist landlords with making modifications to rental units at no cost to the prospective tenants.

● Award of $3 million from the County’s Housing Opportunities Trust Fund to direct new investments in homeownership, rehabilitation, rental subsidies and affordable unit creation. This includes $1.6 million for the Patuxent Commons affordable housing project, which will include 25% of units available for people with disabilities.

In addition to proposed legislation and new programs, Ball announced that the Department of Housing and Community Development will open an application to award an additional $10 million from the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund this fall.

This funding will be used to further advance rental assistance, homeownership initiatives, and the creation of new affordable housing opportunities. Once potential awardees are selected, funding approval will be presented to the County Council in 2024.

Read more about the HOME package and the public’s reaction to it in the November issue of The Business Monthly.