By J. K. Schmid, AFRO Baltimore Staff
Just prior to the partial federal government shutdown, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) returned its few revisions to Baltimore’s plans and reporting for the city’s most devastated residences.
The Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s finalized Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) will be published early in 2019.
The initial draft closed to public comment in late November and was delivered to HUD December 20 and returned to the city on December 21.
Blighted homes like this one in the 3000 block of Edmondson Ave. in West Baltimore are ubiquitous in many neighborhoods, but the city continues decades-long efforts to change that reality. (Photo credit: J.K. Schmid)
The report, spanning from July 2017 to June 2018 (Baltimore’s fiscal year), coincides with “the greatest refurbishment of the existing affordable housing inventory in the history of the city,” the report says.
Simultaneous with the maintenance, repair and rescue of deteriorating housing, is Baltimore’s ambition to demolish 4,000 buildings as part of the city’s Blight Elimination and Stabilization plan.
Here, the city is apparently falling behind.
“Under the current Con Plan only 1,433 structures have been demolished, slightly more than half of the three year goal,” the report reads.
The 2017-2018 year has beaten the average. Baltimore completed demolition of 509 of the 651-building goal.
When a demolition is completed, the city replaces the structure with green space.
The CAPER attributes the slow progress in part to an inability of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funded nonprofits to secure capital; a problem the report describes as “ongoing.”
Baltimore Blight: Is this your house? 2100 block of Mulberry Avenue. (Photo credit: J.K. Schmid)
“While some providers, particularly those carrying out major rehabs of existing housing, have thrived, others have moved at a glacial pace because they could not attract capital,” the report reads.
The Housing Authority generally refers to CDBG as “one of Baltimore Housing’s greatest success stories,” as it allows local jurisdictions to allocate federal funds to the nonprofits and public services of their choosing.
The city expects three new grant programs to begin delivering grants and funding loans in 2019: The Community Catalyst Grants Program (CCG), The Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund, and The Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
According to the Housing Authority, CCG expects to generate, “$3 million in capital funds and $2 million in operating funds to neighborhood-based development organizations to advance neighborhood revitalization projects.”
Baltimore will seed the impact fund with 50 million city dollars, with the hope that the fund will be maintained in the future by private investment.
The Affordable Housing Trust, effective with a charter amendment approved by Baltimore voters in 2016, will begin providing $20 million annually to create affordable housing for families earning less than 50 percent of the area median income.
The Housing Authority still aims to add 10,000 families to Baltimore City, its website says.