Creating Homeowners, Preserving Neighborhoods in Maryland


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HUD Secretary Donovan Tours Baltimore to Learn About City’s Commitment to Make Multifamily Housing More Energy Efficient

JANUARY 31

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Baltimore – Secretary Skinner joined U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on a tour of the Cherry Hill Homes to highlight the energy efficiency updates implemented under the Obama administration’s Better Buildings Challenge.

In December, Baltimore became an inaugural partner as multifamily housing owners committed to cutting energy use in their buildings by 20 percent within 10 years.

About a quarter of U.S. households live in multifamily housing units and spend about $40 billion on energy costs each year. Making these housing units 20 percent more energy efficient would save more than $7 billion per year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 430 million tons. As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, DOE and the HUD are partnering with leading private and affordable buildings owners and public housing agencies to cut energy waste and help families save money.


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Berlin, Md. a National Finalist as America’s Coolest Small Town

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Vote Now! Voting Closes Feb. 25

The historic town of Berlin on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is one of 15 finalists in Budget Travel’s annual America’s Coolest Small Towns contest.

Voting closes at midnight on Feb. 25. Vote here.

Beach-goers no doubt recognize Berlin as the last jewel on the string of Maryland towns along Route 50 en route to Ocean City. But Berlin’s 4,500 residents believe their historic town deserves to become a destination stop in its own right. The town’s website touts its “Nineteenth Century Charm – Twenty-first Century Living,” and features a photo of residents sporting bright yellow shirts and sunglasses holding a banner “In Berlin, The Future’s So Bright We Gotta Wear Shades.”

Says Budget Travel: “If you found yourself admiring the scenery in the films Tuck Everlasting and The Runaway Bride and thought to yourself, why can’t somewhere be as beautiful as that, you might consider visiting Berlin, MD, where both movies were shot.”

Berlin also is a Main Street Maryland community. Through the Main Street Maryland program the state strives to strengthen the economic potential of Maryland’s traditional downtown business districts.


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Volunteers in Southern Maryland Braved Cold to Conduct Annual Survey of Homelessness, With Focus on Veterans

JANUARY 29

Point-in-Time-1.29La Plata, Md – Volunteers – including many from the armed services –braved chilling arctic temperatures Wednesday to conduct an annual census of homeless persons in southern Maryland. This year’s count had a particular focus on homeless veterans, organizers said. Read a release.

Their efforts were the culmination of the “We All Count” campaign,  launched by Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties in October 2013 to increase participation in the Point-in-Time survey.  The campaign is supported by the office of Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and local elected officials and community organizations.

Required by HUD and conducted by local Continuums of Care, the Point-in-Time survey is a census of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January.  Data from this survey is used to determine eligibility and funding levels for certain federal housing grant and loan assistance.

A large portion of area homeless are believed to be veterans, and the “We All Count” campaign focused on improving the accuracy of their count, which  may result in HUD Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers being allocated to southern Maryland.  The VASH program combines Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs through Veterans Affairs medical centers and community-based outreach clinics.

Southern Maryland’s efforts to collect this important data on the homeless population are being led by the Calvert County Mental Health Clinic, Lifestyles of Maryland Foundation, Inc. (Charles County), and the Three Oaks Center (St. Mary’s County).  Volunteers visited  tent encampments, hotels/motels, libraries, and other areas to find and document persons,  To help the campaign’s focus on homeless veterans, many volunteers were active members of the armed services, many stationed at the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River Naval Air Station and other local military installations.


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“Housing Maryland,” the First Comprehensive Statewide Housing Plan in Maryland History, Now Available Online

JANUARY 28

Housing-Maryland-Cover-1.28Crownsville, MD – The first comprehensive statewide housing plan in Maryland’s history is now available online.

Housing Maryland: A Housing Policy Framework for Today and Tomorrow is the end result of a process that grew out of the recommendations of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, which was charged with working with state agencies to produce a statewide development, transportation and housing plans.

The Maryland Department of Planning worked with the commission and a diverse group of stakeholders to produce PlanMaryland, the statewide development plan.

DHCD followed a similar process to produce Housing Maryland.

The 50-page report sets forth a housing policy framework with the following policy goals: to expand choice and the supply of sustainable housing; to restore and revitalize communities across Maryland; and to stabilize families and local communities.


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“Better Choices, Better Results in Housing and Community Development,” 2013 Annual Report, Now Available Online

JANUARY 16

Annual-Report-Cover-1.16Crownsville, MD – More than seven years ago, the nation plunged into a prolonged economic downturn, triggered by the foreclosure crisis and the collapse of the housing market.

The account of Maryland’s response to those unprecedented challenges is told in “Better Choices, Better Results in Housing and Community Development,” DHCD’s 2013 annual report.

“Better Choices, Better Results in Housing and Community Development” chronicles the extraordinary achievements of the O’Malley-Brown administration as it fought to preserve the family home, revitalize communities and expand quality affordable rental housing for working families, senior citizens and individuals with special needs.

The report also includes the accomplishments of 2013, “a year of innovation, historic firsts and record-breaking performances,” Secretary Skinner said in a letter to Marylanders

“Better Choices, Better Results in Housing and Community Development,” can be read online by visiting the publications section on DHCD’s website or by clicking  here  to download a PDF version.


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Public Housing Authorities in Maryland Receive More Than $590,000 to Help Promote Family Self-Sufficiency

JANUARY 15

hudseal_teal_1Washington – Eight Public Housing Authorities in Maryland have been awarded more than $590,000 to help residents gain access to education, job training and employment, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced.

Nationally, HUD awarded nearly $16.3 million under its Public Housing Family Self-Sufficiency Program, which enables public housing authorities across the country to hire or retain more than 300 program coordinators to connect families with supportive services that will assist them in becoming gainfully employed.

Maryland recipients are:

  • Hagerstown Housing Authority        – $100,125
  • Havre de Grace Housing Authority – $69,000
  • Housing Authority of Baltimore City – $69,000
  • Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis – $69,000
  • Housing Authority of the City of Frederick         – $53,045
  • Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County – $69,000
  • Housing Opportunities Commission – $138,000
  • Rockville Housing Enterprises          – $23,075

State Total – $590,245


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Maryland Counselors Told that New Settlement Guidelines Should Address Dual-Tracking, Other Consumer Complaints

JANUARY 14

National-Mortgage-Monitorb-1.14Crownsville, MD – The court-assigned monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement told Maryland foreclosure prevention counselors Tuesday that his office has issued rules that should help address lingering consumer complaints against lenders, including the practice known as “dual-tracking.”

“But here’s the thing: it’s just a tool. We need the help of people on the ground like you – people who understand this very complex process – to make it work,” said Joseph A. Smith, Jr. during a fact-finding visit to DHCD’s headquarters in Crownsville.

Meeting with about two dozen counselors from all over the state, Smith warned that funds for consumer relief under the two-year-old settlement “were almost complete. The rest is just blocking and tackling – making sure the lenders and servicers are in compliance. ”

Smith said the enforcement metrics, issued last fall, address the most persistent complaints from consumers and foreclosure counselors. Consumers have complained that they have a hard time idenfiying a single point of contact who is familiar with their account; and that the modification process – who gets approved for a loan modification and who doesn’t – remains a mystery. The new rules also address dual tracking, where lenders continue to pursue a foreclosure while working with a homeowner or counselor. The monitor’s office is actively working to assess servicer compliance.

Before meeting with the counselors, Secretary Skinner joined Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Mark Kaufman, Maryland commissioner of financial regulation, to provide an overview of the state’s response to the foreclosure crisis.

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Thanks to a robust commitment to foreclosure counseling, Maryland has been one of the most effective states at putting settlement funds to use on behalf of homeowners, the state officials said. Maryland homeowners have received more than $1.3 billion in relief through the settlement – more than neighboring Pennsylvania and Virginia combined. And the state ranks among the national leaders in the number of homeowners receiving relief under the Home Affordable Modification Program and the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

“Maryland put [settlement resources] to really good use, which is a testament to the leadership here,” said Smith.

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