Mikulski, Maryland Delegation Announce HUD Withdraws Plan to Smash Eligibility for Housing Grants in Baltimore Region

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 27, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today led a delegation including Senator Ben Cardin, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John P. Sarbanes (all D-Md.) announcing that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will rescind its plan to reduce rent subsidy levels for residents eligible for the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson region. The proposed change in policy from HUD, part of the agencies’ annual fair market rent update, received a detailed review following a meeting Senator Mikulski convened on Capitol Hill with U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro along with members of the Maryland Delegation.

“This is a win for Baltimore families who work hard but need a helping hand to find an affordable place to live,” Senator Mikulski said. “I went to bat so those who rely on housing assistance can afford to stay in their homes and communities. Today’s decision to reverse course on devastating cuts in rental support is a good first step, but HUD most do more to protect access to affordable housing for Baltimore families.”

“HUD continues to find ways to support the City of Baltimore by continuing valuable programs designed to raise up our residents and support families who are struggling,” said Senator Cardin, who raised the Baltimore City issue with Secretary Castro during the recent delegation meeting. “I appreciate Secretary Castro for listening to our concerns and responding quickly to the urgent needs of Baltimore’s residents.”

“For many of my constituents, these vouchers are the difference between providing a home for their families and homelessness,” Congressman Cummings said. “I applaud HUD for rescinding its plan to cut housing vouchers for thousands of Baltimore residents.”

“Low-income families in Baltimore City want the same things all of us want for our own families – a safe and stable home environment,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “The announcement from Secretary Julian Castro regarding HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program is a critical step in ensuring families can stay in their own homes and continue to contribute to their communities.”

“Thousands of Baltimore families rely on the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I’m thankful that Secretary Castro listened to our concerns and decided to maintain the program at its current levels for our city’s most vulnerable communities.”

Under the current system, the HUD-determined limits for rents for Baltimore have been pegged to the 50th percentile of gross rents, based on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. HUD had proposed to reduce the level for Baltimore to 40 percent of gross rents, which would have a negative impact on Baltimore families who rely on rental assistance. HUD has used the 50th percentile for Baltimore since 2010 as part of an effort to help families move away from high-poverty areas.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from HUD to administer the voucher program.

In September, Senator Mikulski led a letter to Secretary Castro signed by Senator Cardin and Representatives Cummings, Ruppersberger and Sarbanes calling on the Secretary to restore this critical housing rental assistance for families in Howard County and the Baltimore region. A copy of the letter is available here.

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