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Fed. agreement: Baltimore must get 1,000+ affordable housing units in wealthier areas

Fed. agreement: Baltimore must get 1,000+ affordable housing units in wealthier areas

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Affordable housing could soon be more spread out in the Baltimore region, with more of it in wealthier neighborhoods.

The federal housing department agreed Tuesday to resolve a discrimination complaint that challenged the fairness of Maryland's low-income housing tax credit program, according to a news release.

The agreement between HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development means streamlining "the creation of affordable housing in higher opportunity neighborhoods in the Baltimore region," according to the news release.

"Today's agreement will help ensure that people of all backgrounds who call this area home have more affordable housing options in higher opportunity neighborhoods," said Anna Maria Farías, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, in the news release.

She noted that "skyrocketing housing prices in the Baltimore region are making it harder than ever for hardworking families to find decent housing at prices they can afford."

The settlement will raise the number of affordable housing units in the area by up to 1,500, with more than 1,000 being new construction, according to the news release.

Developers who build affordable housing will also no longer have to meet local scoring or approval criteria before applying for state tax credits.

The discrimination complaint was filed in 2011 by the Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign, a group of housing and civil rights organizations.

HUD is headed by Ben Carson, who is from Baltimore.

The group said the state's requirement that affordable housing projects be pre-approved by local governments in order to qualify for tax credits meant those projects would be kept out of predominantly white areas, therefore limiting housing opportunities for black and Hispanic households.

The agreement will require the state to:

-Stop requiring local approvals of proposed affordable housing projects, or create a new scoring criteria

-Ensure that at least 1,500 family housing units are built in communities of opportunity, 1,050 of them new construction

-Change the state's Transit-Oriented Development Guide to give points to any plan to develop family housing in a community of opportunity

-Expand affirmative fair-housing marketing plans

-Pay $225,000 to BRHC



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