Baltimore County Fair Housing Settlement to Address Racial and Economic Segregation

The Baltimore County Branch of the NAACP, Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc., and three individuals filed a complaint with HUD on November 22, 2011 alleging that Baltimore County developed housing only in areas with high concentrations of racial minorities and poverty. They also claimed the County provided affordable rental housing only for seniors and not for families with children. A Conciliation Agreement and Voluntary Compliance Agreement were reached on March 7.

The agreement requires the County to commit at least $3 million in County funds annually for ten years to create no fewer than 1,000 affordable housing units. These units must be in specific census tracts that have low numbers of subsidized housing units, low poverty, strong schools, access to jobs, and other measures of opportunity. Of the 1,000 units:

  • At least 300 units must be affordable and occupied by families with children and non-elderly families with income less than 30% of the area median income (AMI). At least 150 of these must be developed through new construction or substantial rehabilitation;
  • At least 700 units must be affordable and occupied by families with children and non-elderly families with income less than 60% AMI. At least 650 of these must be developed through new construction or substantial rehabilitation;
  • At least 500 units must have three or more bedrooms;
  • At least one-third of the properties where these units are located must comply with the design and construction requirements for covered multifamily units outlined under the Fair Housing Act;
  • At least 100 units will be accessible and in a range of bedroom sizes throughout the specified census tracts, with no more than ten accessible units developed in a given census tract;
  • No units will be in a standalone permanent supportive housing project. Units financed with permanent supportive housing funds will count toward the settlement only if they are fully integrated in developments that have at least 85% of the units not financed with permanent supportive housing funds;
  • All units must have deed restrictions to ensure they remain affordable and occupied by eligible households for a minimum of 15 years; and
  • All units must have a contractual agreement requiring owners and operators not to discriminate against a tenant or applicant who has a voucher or other public subsidy.

The agreement also calls on the County to operate a Mobility Counseling Program which will provide at least 2,000 families with vouchers over ten years, enabling them to move to specified high-opportunity census tracts. The County will provide $300,000 annually for ten years to fund structural modifications so that other affordable housing units are accessible to people with disabilities.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (D) will submit and promote to the County Council legislation prohibiting housing discrimination based on source of income. The legislation must be substantially similar to model language in the agreement. In addition, the County agrees to modify several policies. For example, the County has already eliminated language requiring developers to obtain evidence of support for a residential rental housing development from any County Council member prior to moving forward on a project.

The agreement is at: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=Xerox-031416.pdf