Baltimore County, State Housing Agencies Resolve Discrimination Complaints
HUD recently announced a settlement agreement with Maryland’s Baltimore County over federal discrimination complaints filed in 2011. The complaints revolve around an issue that’s been playing out across the nation. The issue involves whether state and local governments may be violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 because low-income housing is routinely located in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, minorities, and subsidized homes.
The state “has adopted, maintained and enforced policies and practices in the [Low Income Housing Tax Credit] program that have the effect of limiting the development of affordable housing for families with children in high-opportunity, majority white communities,” states the housing discrimination complaint that advocacy groups filed against the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. The complaint also accused the program of perpetuating segregation by having required developers seeking the incentives to obtain local government support.
According to HUD, the settlement will be a catalyst to promoting housing mobility and will help the county and the surrounding areas develop affordable housing that addresses residential segregation. Baltimore County will invest $3 million annually for 10 years to develop or preserve 1,000 affordable housing units that will be geographically dispersed in neighborhoods with access to opportunity for low- and very low-income residents, stated the agreement. The county also will provide at least 2,000 Housing Choice Vouchers to assist families in finding housing in higher-opportunity neighborhoods.
At least one-third of the units created under the settlement will be accessible and available for people with disabilities. In addition, the county will ensure that all its units comply with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act and will provide $300,000 in annual funding for 10 years to make other affordable housing units accessible. The settlement also calls for the enactment of legislation prohibiting discrimination based on the source of income, according to HUD.