Reinstitution of the Charles County Housing Authority
Article 44A, §1-102 sets forth the statutory authority to establish a “Housing Authority” in the State of Maryland. § 1-203 describes how local Housing Authorities are created after 1990. In 1991, the Charles County Board of Commissioners created a “Housing Council” in response to an embarrassing incident involving a local slumlord who was taking rent from low-income African-American residents living in squalors on a mass of property (Patuxent Woods) that had been seized by the county government in a tax sale.
I advocated for the creation of an actual Housing Authority dating back to 1991 during my days as a community activist. The Housing Council created in 1991 operated under that title until 2009. It was that year during the course of my first term as District 3 Commissioner that the Board of Commissioners moved to upgrade the status of the Council to an actual Housing Authority. With that distinction, the Housing Authority became “a public body, corporate and politic, exercising public and essential governmental functions.”
A fully operating Housing Authority has the ability to make mortgage loans, issue bonds, and mortgage subsidy payments as well as construction loans. Each Housing Authority has the autonomy to establish a budget and each jurisdiction that establishes an Authority is required to establish a budget for its operations. The original funding source for Charles County came from the proceeds the County obtained when it sold several properties that were in the government’s possession.
It is hard to believe that the present Board of Commissioners discontinued the Authority’s operations with little or no public input in 2016. This decision was made despite the fact that our county has few affordable housing options and our homeless population continues to rise.
Additionally, our county has three trailer park communities that continue to operate with little, if any, concern about the conditions of its residents. Many of the people who live in these communities are of limited financial means, which forces them to accept living in substandard housing conditions. This reality makes it hard to believe that our present Board of Commissioners would vote to disband the County’s Housing Authority. Reinstating the Housing Authority will be a priority under my administration.
I will also propose the establishment of a Housing Trust Fund that will be used to manage affordable housing projects in the County.