HUD Secretary Julián Castro says that the agreement should pave the way for more affordable housing in Baltimore County. (Courtesy photo)

Baltimore County is trying to move past discriminatory housing policies that have been in place for decades.

Baltimore County officials announced March 15 their agreement to dismantle discriminatory housing policies and expand the number of affordable homes in more flourishing communities after five years of negotiations between Baltimore County and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials.

The agreement is a result of a complaint filed in 2011 with HUD by the Baltimore County Branch of the NAACP, Baltimore Neighborhoods, a private non-profit fair housing organization, and three individuals. The complaints claimed Baltimore County created affordable housing only in poverty-concentrated areas and failed to affirmatively further fair housing, according to HUD’s press release.

“Every person deserves a fair shot at opportunity and that starts with a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro, in a press release. “This agreement sets Baltimore County on a path to stronger, more inclusive communities where everyone can enjoy equal access to opportunity.”

Under the agreement Baltimore County will have to invest $3 million a year for 10 years to create 1,000 housing units, provide Housing Choice Vouchers to at least 2,000 families, market the units to potential tenants who are least likely to apply, and introduce legislation that prohibits discrimination based on source of income.

“The agreement is very clear that we are to do what we can to encourage the construction of low-income housing but the county was not going to build its own housing,” said Michael Field, Baltimore County attorney, in a statement.