Baltimore Press

$2M OK’d for Housing

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community, Development (MDHC) an­nounced yesterday that an additional $2 million dollars have been allocated for the Home Ownership for People with Disabilities Program.

The lion’s share of the program, over a half million dollars, has gone to Baltimore City residents since its inception in 1997. MDHC Director Raymond Skinner introduced the pro­ject as an effort to reach an under­served population.

These state funds supplement the $2.75 million that are being loaned to thirty-seven disabled homebuyers across the state. These low-interest — occasionally even no-interest — loans are being underwritten for up to forty years in length, at an average of $53,794 per household in Baltimore City. To qualify for this program, the potential home buyer has to have Certificate of Disability from a health care professional.

The Maryland representative for Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Harold Young, praised Skinner and MDHC as being “for­ward thinking.” He spoke of its implementation of Governor Parris Glendening’s “Smart Growth” initia­tive, which is designed to curb subur­ban sprawl.

Young celebrated the fact that the country as a whole, is enjoying “an unprecedented growth in the econo­my” and that African-American Marylanders were at record levels of home ownership, a figure of 46%.

In the course of his speech, he noted several other points: first, that one of the ancillary benefits of being a homeowner is that one’s children are more likely to go to college; sec­ond, that 82% of the HUD-financed loans are for first time home buyers; and third, that $3.4 billion of HUD’s budget had been invested in Maryland last year, spurring economic growth.

Skinner announced grants to four non-profit groups to set up counseling programs for first-time home buyers. He said that such counseling was essential to not only getting people into homes, but keeping them there.

The Disabilities Program is funded by the state, however, HUD grants come from federal funds. The money supports underserved areas in the state, such as the tri-state area and the eastern shore — but not Baltimore City, which has a number of such counseling programs already in place. Interested parties should contact Maryland Center for Community Development for pro­grams in their area.

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