Creating Homeowners, Preserving Neighborhoods in Maryland

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A Strategic Demolition Near Route One Corridor Supports the Town of Hyattsville’s Revitalization



OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW: A wrecking ball takes a ceremonial bite out of a vacant property near downtown Hyattsville, MD as the town celebrates its ongoing revitalization efforts.

Hyattsville, MD – Secretary Skinner joined Hyattsville Mayor Marc Tartaro and local business leaders for the ceremonial demolition of vacant properties to make way for a public parking garage that will support the renaissance of small businesses, affordable housing and entertainment venues known as Arts District Hyattsville.

Hyattsville has experienced tremendous growth in the past few years, transforming the Route One Corridor into a walkable, mixed-use community with a growing roster of retail and restaurants. The parking garage project, funded in part through the Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund, will create centralized parking for visitors to the area.

Established in 2012, the Strategic Demolition fund provides grants and loans to local governments and non-profit community development organizations working in conjunction with private entities to fund capital costs for redevelopment opportunities in the state’s Sustainable Communities. Sustainable Communities are areas identified by local governments as being in need of revitalization and where the state and its local partners have agreed to concentrate growth and development and leverage scarce state revitalization resources.

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Newly Renovated Columbus School Apartments Are Part of E. Baltimore’s Transformation


This 123-year-old building that once housed the Columbus School and represents an excellent example of Romanesque Revival architecture, is being transformed into 50 modern affordable rental housing units.

This 123-year-old building once housed the Columbus School and represents an excellent example of Romanesque Revival architecture. It is being transformed into 50 modern affordable rental housing units.

Baltimore – Secretary Skinner on Thursday joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the ribbon cutting for the Columbus School Apartments, the $13 million transformation of an abandoned 19th century school building in east Baltimore into modern, energy efficient affordable rental housing for 50 families.

“This building represents more than history and more than fine architecture,” Secretary Skinner said. “It is an important piece of the city’s revitalization strategy for the North Avenue corridor.”

“This project represents the power of transformation to push back blight,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake, adding that the goal of her administration is not just to bring new families into Baltimore, “but to give the families that are already here a reason to stay.”

Constructed in 1891, the historic Columbus School building formerly housed a public school for elementary students. Believed to be one of the highest performing schools in Baltimore City at the time, the school closed its doors in the early 1970s and students were reassigned to the then brand new Harford Heights Elementary School. The Columbus School building, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Financing for the project was provided by DHCD, Bank of America, Capital One and Hudson Housing Capital, HSA and the Woda Group.

DHCD support included $1 million in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits for $9.7 million in equity and $1.4 million in Rental Housing Production Program funds.

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Building Beautiful Homes: Annual Tour Helps DHCD Staff Remember Why They Do What They Do


Secretary Skinner receives a plaque of appreciation from Kamau Wise, a resident of the Lillian Jones apartments.

Secretary Skinner receives a plaque of appreciation from Kamau Wise, a resident of the Lillian Jones apartments.

Baltimore – The plaque, presented with a shy but beaming smile, read “Thank you Secretary Skinner for our beautiful home, from the children of the Lillian Jones Apartments,” and it had more than a dozen youthful signatures.

That presentation from young Kamau Wise capped a daylong tour of DHCD-funded projects in Baltimore City, where Secretary Skinner and staff members with DHCD’s Community Development Administration got to see the department’s single family and multifamily programs in action.

The Community Development Administration is the housing finance arm of DHCD, working to build homeownership and increase the supply of affordable rental housing for working families, senior citizens and individuals with special needs.

Those programs have a dramatic impact on the state’s economic well-being. Each year, DHCD programs create jobs, stimulate the economy and generate millions of dollars in state and local taxes. In fiscal year 2013, for example, DHCD programs had an economic impact of nearly $24 for every dollar spent.

But those programs have an even more significant and far-reaching impact on what Governor O’Malley calls the most important place in the state – the family home. Staff members got to see that impact firsthand Friday during tours of projects such as Wayland Village, Village Crossroads, City Arts and the Lillian Jones Apartments.

Those projects exemplify DHCD’s success at putting housing to work – to strengthen and stabilize neighborhoods and families. The City Arts and Lillian Jones projects have won national awards for innovation and vision.

But the plaque from the children of the Lillian Jones Apartments pretty much said it best: at the end of the day, DHCD programs are about building beautiful homes – for children, for senior citizens, for families of all walks of life all over the state.

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Weatherization Grants to Help 1,700 Low Income Family Homes Improve Energy Efficiency


Crownsville, MD – Five contractors with proven experience in providing weatherization services to low income households have been awarded $3.3 million each through DHCD’s Targeted and Enhanced Weatherization program.

Awarded grants were Edge Energy; Green and Healthy Homes; Hawkeye Construction; Elysian Energy and ADP Consultants.

Funded through the Customer Investment Fund, the three-year grants will enable the contractors to assist more than 500 households a year or about 1,700 households in all. The Customer Investment Fund was established by the Maryland Public Service Commission under the merger settlement between Exelon and the Constellation Energy Group, Inc.

Weatherization is a significant part of the O’Malley-Brown administration’s EmPOWER Maryland initiative to reduce statewide energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015. Improvements such as the installation of energy conservation materials and more efficient furnaces can help reduce a household’s consumption, lower the monthly utility bills, make occupants more comfortable and may improve the air quality and overall health of the family. Continue reading

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DHCD Earns National Honors for Sustainable Communities; Baltimore and Annapolis Projects


Long-time community activist Lillian Jones attended the groundbreaking for the award-winning senior apartments project named in her honor.

Long-time community activist Lillian Jones attended the 2012 groundbreaking for the award-winning senior apartments project named in her honor.

Crownsville, MD – The multi-year effort to replace deteriorating public housing in Annapolis and the construction of new affordable housing for senior citizens in west Baltimore were recognized last week by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials as examples of innovative projects that met the needs of people in the communities they serve.

NAHRO also recognized the Maryland Sustainable Communities initiative, the comprehensive community revitalization strategy that brought the state’s several programs under a single designation. To date, 55 communities have been designated “Sustainable Communities” and more than 70 have applied. The designation makes a community eligible for a comprehensive package of resources as part of a holistic strategy for community development, revitalization and sustainability.

Working with Anne Arundel County and the Annapolis Housing Authority, DHCD has built attractive, new energy efficient public housing at Annapolis Gardens, Bowman Court, Obery Court and College Creek with more projects in process. Those rebuilding efforts also include homeownership opportunities for residents through partnership with Habitat for Humanity and other groups. Continue reading

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Maryland Housing Beat: May Home Sales Hit Third Consecutive Month of Double-Digit Growth


Crownsville, MD – Maryland’s housing market keeps growing … and growing … and growing. That’s the news from the latest issue of Maryland Housing Beat, DHCD’s monthly profile of the state’s housing market.

Vol. 3 Issue 6 – reflecting statistical data from May – can be viewed by visiting DHCD’s website at or by clicking here to download a PDF version.

According to the most recent data released by the Maryland Association of Realtors, existing home sales reached the highest volume in nine months and recorded the third consecutive month of double-digit growth. May foreclosures declined 5.2 percent below last year, registering the first year-over-year drop in 23 months.

Maryland Housing Beat is an in-depth review of housing-related data compiled by DHCD’s Office of Research and Statistical Analysis from a broad range of sources, including the National Association of Realtors and the Maryland Association of Realtors; Freddie Mac; the Mortgage Bankers Association and RealtyTrac.

Maryland Housing Beat is a monthly publication of DHCD’s Office of Communications and Marketing.

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International Festival in Prince George’s Co. Will Feature Foreclosure Prevention Workshops

Homeowners found lots of empowering information at a DHCD exhibit booth in June.

Homeowners found lots of empowering information at a DHCD exhibit booth in June.


Largo, MD – This weekend’s International Festival at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre won’t be all about singing and dancing, although there will be plenty of that!

In addition to name performers such as Ludacris and TLC, the program also features an Empowerment Pavilion where DHCD will host its second “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait!” foreclosure prevention workshop of the year.

The highly regarded “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait!” workshops connect homeowners with counselors, pro bono attorneys and lenders and are considered one of the most effective means of helping financially struggling families find sustainable alternatives to foreclosure. Few things are more empowering! Online registration has closed, but it’s still possible to register at the event. Click here for more information.

Last year, DHCD participated in 130 workshops and events, often in partnership with local elected officials, churches and civic organizations.

DHCD is holding these workshops even as the latest reports indicate that last year’s surge in foreclosures is moderating. The good news is that fewer foreclosures are entering the system. However, lenders are taking advantage of Maryland’s strengthening housing market to move forward with their most seriously delinquent loans.

But even seriously delinquent homeowners should not give up hope, which is the over-arching message of the foreclosure prevention workshops.

Maryland’s counseling-oriented approach to fighting foreclosure has enabled tens of thousands of citizens to save their homes. The state has enacted far-reaching reforms, outlawing predatory practices that helped trigger the crisis and giving embattled homeowners the time, the counseling and the pro bono legal advice to explore their options.

Maryland was one of the first states to make mediation a part of the process and the state has delivered more assistance to troubled homeowners than any state in the region. For example, Maryland has outperformed Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and D.C. in helping households refinance through the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program. Troubled Maryland families have received more benefits under the national Attorney General Servicing Settlement than neighboring states combined.

The state’s approach has helped stabilize neighborhoods, kept properties on the tax rolls and helped hardworking families preserve equity in their most significant investment – their homes – through one of the most severe national economic downturns since the Great Depression.

Upcoming workshops include:

Sept. 20 – College of Southern Maryland – in partnership with Charles County Housing Authority;

Oct.11 – North Laurel Community Center – in partnership with Howard County Housing;

Dec. 13 – in partnership w/ Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development.

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Membership in Maryland Mortgage Program’s Fast-Growing Partner Match Program Reaches 300



Crownsville, MD – Three hundred local businesses and organizations have joined the Maryland Mortgage Program’s Partner Match program, the state’s fast-growing initiative to help Maryland families obtain the home of their dreams.

DHCD provides a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $2,500 to a participating partner’s financial contribution for down payment and closing cost assistance through programs such as House Keys 4 Employees, the Builder/Developer Incentive, and Community Partner Incentive. Click here to learn more.

Recognizing that homeownership plays an integral role in the economic vitality of Maryland, DHCD has formed partnerships with participating employers, builders and community organizations throughout the state – as well as with local governments – to promote homeownership and Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green & Growing initiatives.

Down payment assistance is one of the significant features of the Maryland Mortgage Program, the state’s flagship homeownership initiative. Maryland Mortgage Program borrowers can qualify for up to $5,000 toward their down payment and closing cost expenses at a zero percent interest rate, repayable upon sale or transfer of the home or when the loan is refinanced. Any Partner Match funds are in addition to the basic $5,000 down payment assistance.

DHCD ‘s Partner Match participants include 160 partners in the House Keys 4 Employees program, 125 in the Builder Developer Incentive Program and 15 in the Community Partner Incentive Program.

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Maryland Among First to Progress on HUD’s Rental Assistance Program for Low Income Disabled Persons


Washington – Maryland is the first state to complete a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, setting the stage to put more than $11.2 million to work providing rental assistance to extremely low-income persons with disabilities, many of whom are transitioning out of institutional settings or are at high risk of homelessness.

The $11.2 million will provide five years of rental assistance for 150 units through HUD’s Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Demonstration Program. The program will be administered by DHCD in partnership with the Maryland Department of Disabilities and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The units will be selected by DHCD from its portfolio of affordable rental housing projects. It is anticipated that the 150 units will be split evenly between the Baltimore and Washington, DC metro areas. Prospective tenants will be referred to DHCD by the departments of disabilities and health and mental hygiene.

In addition to those units, DHCD and local Public Housing Authorities have committed to provide local preferences for up to 97 Housing Choice Vouchers as part of their support for Maryland’s efforts.

HUD has allocated approximately $98.8 million in rental assistance for 3,530 units nationwide through the program.

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Groundbreaking Marks Restoration of Senior High-Rise in Baltimore’s Iconic Bolton Hill



Baltimore – Secretary Skinner joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in the city’s historic Bolton Hill community for groundbreaking ceremonies for the restoration of Memorial Apartments, preserving 266 affordable rental housing units for senior citizens.

The $54.6 million project will transform the aging high-rise into a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building with modern apartments and a full complement of services near public transportation and just minutes from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It will serve as a catalyst for further development in one of Baltimore’s most iconic communities.

Including the Memorial Apartments, DHCD has over 80 affordable rental housing projects throughout the state that are in various stages of construction or underwriting – a building boom of historic dimensions, Secretary Skinner said. That high level of production is made possible by the support of the governor, the lieutenant governor and the General Assembly through their funding and support of the Rental Housing Works initiative. The more than $62.2 million in Rental Housing Works appropriations over the last three years will allow DHCD to finance nearly 4,000 units of housing and preserve more than 5,500 jobs.


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