WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin today led a delegation including Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John P. Sarbanes (all D-Md.) in sending a letter to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro calling on the agency to immediately restore housing rental assistance for families in Howard and Baltimore Counties, particularly Columbia, as well as the City of Baltimore under the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program. The proposed change in policy from HUD is included as part of the agencies’ annual fair market rent update.
“We urge you to immediately restore the rental assistance for Howard and Baltimore Counties and the City of Baltimore under the Housing Choice Voucher Program,” the delegation wrote. “The proposed reductions to these housing subsidies will uproot families from their neighborhoods and children from their schools.”
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.
The letter to Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Castro follows:
September 25, 2015
The Honorable Julian Castro
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
451 7th St SW
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Secretary Castro:
We urge you to immediately restore the rental assistance for Howard and Baltimore Counties and the City of Baltimore under the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The proposed reductions to these housing subsidies will uproot families from their neighborhoods and children from their schools.
We are particularly concerned about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposal for Columbia in Howard County, Maryland. Columbia is a community that prides itself on its socio-economic diversity. Maryland families move to Columbia for its schools and neighborhoods with a true sense of community. We are advised under HUD’s proposal, Columbia will lose its own Fair Market Rent area and be a part of the City of Baltimore and Baltimore County area. In HUD’s proposal, Columbia is hit the hardest.
HUD’s policies are contradictory. HUD supports reducing funding for Moving-to-Work, a program that has helped the City of Baltimore address its acute housing needs, because it would rather give families a voucher to move to communities of opportunities. Yet now, HUD is cutting the rental assistance that allows families to move to more affluent and stable neighborhoods in Howard and Baltimore Counties. HUD can’t have it both ways.
We look forward to your solving this problem.