Five years after BMC and the region’s public housing authorities (PHAs) received a seed grant and issued our first request for proposals (RFP), our Regional Project-Based Voucher (PBV) Program is bringing new affordable homes to several communities and helping low-income families access the full educational and economic opportunity of our metropolitan area.
On August 30, BMC Housing Policy Coordinator Dan Pontious joined Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Maryland Housing Secretary Ken Holt, Howard County Housing Commission Executive Director Peter Engel, and officials from the Woda Cooper Companies to cut the ribbon on Robinson Overlook, a new 48-unit Woda Cooper development of affordable rental homes in the Hickory Ridge Village of Columbia.
BMC was proud to take part in this event where rent subsidies in our program award, along with highly competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other funding from the state, helped Woda Cooper secure key financing for Robinson Overlook. Our voucher award also ensures that eight low-income families from our participating jurisdictions will be able to live in this attractive, safe community and have their children attend Howard County’s high-performing schools.
Robinson Overlook joins the recently-opened Riverwatch II in Elkridge and Homes for Fountain Green in Bel Air as the first Regional PBV awardees to lease affordable homes to families. They are three of eleven total awardees in five jurisdictions that have received a total of 101 project-based vouchers. Those eleven developments in our region include nearly 800 overall rental homes affordable to households at various incomes.
The vouchers in this program come from the six participating housing authorities – the Housing Authorities of the Cities of Baltimore and Annapolis, Baltimore County Department of Housing and Community Development, Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County, Howard County Housing Commission, and Harford County Housing Agency – as well as the nonprofit Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership (BRHP).
BRHP, which already carries out a significant regional program using Housing Authority of Baltimore City vouchers, administers all of the project-based vouchers in our program and provides housing counseling to participants, as well. That counseling includes help with any credit issues, family budgeting, and guidance on working with property owners and managers, as well as rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
This Regional PBV Program is part of BMC’s work with local housing authorities and jurisdictions to carry out their duty to affirmatively further fair housing. That duty, imposed by the 1968 Fair Housing Act, is to operate housing programs that counter the federal government’s prior history of promoting racial segregation that excluded African Americans and other racial groups from educational and economic opportunity.
The Regional PBV Program began in 2016 through a pool of 100 project-based vouchers pledged by participants and a $550,000 seed grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for central coordination and housing mobility counseling. Collaborating agencies have now added 93 more vouchers to the regional pool and are sustaining the funding of central coordination at BMC. A rolling RFP is open through 2021.