Baltimore Housing Rolls Out Plan to Preserve Affordable Housing

HUD's new initiative will allow for $300 million for the preservation of affordable housing

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) has been approved by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to transform a significant portion of Baltimore's public housing units through the agency's Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. Under RAD, it is possible to raise substantial amounts of capital to rehabilitate deteriorating pubic housing developments. The program operates by converting public housing subsidies into Section 8 subsidies that are attached to the developments. The heart of the program is the major renovation of the buildings for the existing residents and preservation for the future residents from HABC's public housing waiting list.

Because of chronic under-funding by the federal government, which pays for public housing, HABC has an enormous backlog of repair and improvement needs for the roughly 11,000 units it operates. This is a universal problem. Nationwide, public housing units are disappearing at a rate of about 10,000 units per year. RAD allows housing authorities to convert public housing units to long-term Section 8 units. There are no proposed programs other than RAD to help pay for the $300 million worth of work. After renovation, the units are expected to be substantially upgraded and more energy efficient. HABC hopes to use RAD to preserve and maintain over 4,000 of its scarce public housing units. Without RAD an increasing number of public housing units will be lost to deterioration in the years ahead.

HABC intends to sell the RAD developments to partnerships that include private developers and investors who are experienced in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. HABC will be part of the partnership. After the sale, private management companies will manage the developments. HABC will participate in the oversight of these companies and set performance and management standards.

HABC and the owner will work with the tenant council for each RAD project to minimize the inconvenience to residents. No residents will be permanently displaced. Residents will continue to pay 30% of their income for their portion of the rent, and the units will have long-term affordability restrictions (up to 40 years).