Advocates from across Maryland gathered in Annapolis on February 15 for Housing Day, coordinated by the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC), an NLIHC state partner. More than 250 advocates met with 41 legislators to ask them to increase funding for Rental Housing Works (RHW), a state program that provides subordinate gap financing solely for projects financed using the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD’s) Multifamily Bond Program and 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and they called for full funding of the state’s other rental housing programs to create urgently needed affordable housing throughout the state.
MAHC Board President Ivy Dench-Carter kicked off the day by introducing Senator Ed Kasemeyer (D), chair of the Budget and Tax Committee; Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones (D), chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee; and Delegate Maggie McIntosh (D), chair of the Appropriations Committee, among others. Following remarks by these and other legislators, DHCD Secretary Kenneth Holt spoke about projects created with RHW resources and about the impact the program could have if it received additional funding. MAHC Legislative Committee Chair Jessica Zuniga then reviewed the legislative priorities for advocates to raise with their legislators: $25 million in funding for the RHW program and full funding for the other DHCD rental housing programs. Advocates spent the rest of the morning meeting with legislators.
RHW has been in operation for six years, during which it created 9,400 jobs and leveraged nearly $1 billion in other investments. The loan program has received $113.7 million to date, which have been used to create or rehabilitate 54 rental housing developments benefiting low income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Advocates urged their legislators to increase the funding for RHW to $25 million in the FY19 budget.
The governor proposed fully funding other rental housing programs administered by DHCD at $30 million for FY19. Much of the state funding for these programs comes from the repayment of previous loans and does not require new appropriations. Housing Day advocates urged adoption of the DHCD rental housing programs budget as proposed.