Mayor Pugh Reaches Agreement to Increase the City's Affordable Housing Trust Fund

BALTIMORE, MD.  —  Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and Baltimore City Council leaders, including President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and Housing Committee Chairman John Bullock have reached an historic agreement with the Baltimore Housing Roundtable and Housing for All Coalition to drastically increase the city’s funding of affordable housing.

Under the agreement, the City will allocate, within the next five years, at least $20 million annually to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The Trust Fund will be funded through a combination of legislation from the City Council, general obligation bonds, and other revenue sources.

Key provisions in the agreement include:

  1. City Council President Young and Chairman Bullock will support amendments to Council Bill 18-0221 that will establish a 0.6% excise tax on the transfer of real property valued at or above $1,000,000 and a 0.15% excise tax on the recordation of instruments concerning real property on transactions valued at or above $1,000,000 ("Excise tax"). Mayor Pugh will support this revised bill. Revenues from this legislation are projected to average $13 million annually to the Trust Fund. If the legislation generates more than $16 million in a given year, additional revenue will be split with half to the Trust Fund and half to the General Fund. 
  2. Mayor Pugh will allocate, at a minimum, additional funds to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund either through the annual Ordinance of Estimates or other legislation (City or State) on the following schedule:
  • FY 2020: $2 million 
  • FY 2021: $3.5 million 
  • FY 2022: $5 million
  • FY 2023 and subsequent years: $7 million 

This agreement will be memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding and a press conference and celebration that will be held in the next 30 days.

"This historic commitment further emphasizes our effort to create a new era of neighborhood investment.  Affordable housing, sustainable communities, and successful development are central to our work to move Baltimore forward," said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. "This agreement proves again that the solutions to complex challenges are within our grasp and we can face these challenges with equitable and inclusive solutions that meet current needs and work against displacement of long-time residents."

"This agreement is a sign of structural change for Baltimore residents who long-fought for permanently affordable housing and development without displacement.  We are finally seeing the seeds of that vision come into fruition," remarked Destiny Watford, a United Workers Leadership Organizer and board member of the South Baltimore Community Land Trust, "We are excited to partner with Mayor Pugh, Council President Young and City Agencies to realize this new chapter in Baltimore’s bright future", remarked Ms. Watford.  

"I am proud of this historic agreement that places Baltimore on a path toward addressing the need for affordable housing in a meaningful and concrete way," Council President Young said. "I was proud to lead this effort and I look forward to establishing an affordable housing program that will improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens."

"As the sponsor of this bill, it is encouraging to see the communication and compromise between housing advocates and the Mayor’s Office," Councilman John Bullock said. "We are excited about moving it forward with the support of the City Council President and a significant majority of the City Council. Given that Baltimore voters overwhelming approved the ballot initiative two years ago, now is the time to provide sustainable resources for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund."

Housing for All, a coalition that includes the United Workers, the Baltimore Housing Roundtable, the Community Development Network and other equity advocacy organizations, spearheaded the 2016 ballot initiative charter amendment that collected over 18,000 petition signatures and created the Affordable Housing Trust Fund with over 80% voter approval. Odette Ramos of Housing for All and the Community Development Network noted: "We conducted significant research on various funding sources since that time and have been working closely with the Council President and Mayor’s Office to get to $20 million. We're grateful to the Council President, the Mayor, and the City Council for moving this forward, and to the voters for their continued pressure to make this happen. This was a team effort with a diverse, active coalition. Pending approval from the City Council, this will be a significant milestone in realizing our goal that all people have access to decent, affordable housing. " 

This agreement also helps fulfill the Baltimore Housing Roundtable’s 20/20 Campaign that called in part for $20 million in annual public investment for deeply affordable housing. The Trust fund mandates that revenue be directed to help those with incomes at or below 50% Area Median Income (AMI) (about $46,000 for a family of 4) with half reserved for families earning below 30% of the AMI ($27,000 for a family of 4). The poverty earnings for a family of four in Baltimore is $23,850 and approximately 23% of Baltimoreans live at or below the poverty line.(Source Maryland Alliance for the Poor "Maryland Poverty Profiles 2016")

Over 10 years at $20 million/year, the Fund the Trust Act could:

  • Create or preserve over 4,100 permanently affordable rental and homeowner opportunities
  • Provide fair housing, eviction prevention and housing counseling services to over 12,000 families
  • Rehabilitate 1,600 vacant properties
  • Support 6 community land trusts
  • Employ 8,500 construction workers

A hearing on the amended Fund the Trust Act (CB 18-0221) is scheduled for September 27 with the expectation that legislation will be approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor to become effective January 1, 2019.

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