The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has awarded $4.5 million in tax credits to three separate developments in Howard County.

The funding will support the first mixed-income housing in the Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Plan, turning Toby’s Dinner Theater into a state of the art cultural center with Artists Flats, consisting of 174 new apartments; Ellicott Gardens II, a new 70-unit affordable housing development on Waterloo Road; and Residences at Roslyn Rise, a redevelopment project of 59 existing units.

Peter Engel, the executive director of the Howard County Housing Commission, noted that there is still a shortage of more than 5,000 homes for individuals and families earning $50,000 a year or less who are already living in the county. “We know that when people struggle to pay their rent, they have difficulty helping their kids with school work; their health suffers, causing trips to the emergency room; and they commute farther, adding to climate change,” he said. “Giving our lower wage workers more opportunities to live throughout the county benefits all of us.”

The Housing Commission, in partnership with Orchard Development, a Columbia-based development firm, was the applicant for Artists Flats, and will lead the housing component while Orchard will be the lead developer for the new cultural center. The Housing Commission in partnership with Homes for America will develop Ellicott Gardens II. Residences at Roslyn Rise will be developed by Enterprise Homes.

The Artist Flats and Ellicott Gardens II are expected to break ground in mid-2020. For Residences at Roslyn Rise, the goal is to begin renovations by the end of the year.