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What is Affordable Housing?

Over the last ten years, the Greater Baltimore Housing market has broken down for many people, including middle income families, municipal employees, lower wage retail and service workers, retirees,and young people beginning their careers, as well as many low-come families. Because of existing restrictive zoning policies, the private market is not building affordable housing except in distant areas where land costs are lower, such as in southern York County, PA, northern Carroll and Harford Counties.

Existing affordable housing is disappearing and is becoming concentrated primarily in high-poverty city neighborhoods or as hand-me-down houses in the near suburbs like Brooklyn, Glen Burnie, Lansdowne, Essex, and Dundalk.

Current policies of exclusionary zoning favor development on large minimum lot sizes, with large minimum square footages dwellings and are biased against apartments. This type ofexclusionary zoning drives up housing costs and promotes a ‘segregation of opportunity’ – the lack of opportunities to good jobs, access to good schools due to the lack of affordable housing. Many studies have shown that the housing policy of an area has a directly impact on its school policy. Housing policy is school policy.

Inclusionary zoning policies if implemented throughout the metropolitan region, could reduce traffic congestion by allowing residents to live near where they work, could boost economic development, and could provide housing for workers in the local community, police officers, nurses aids, firefighters, schoolteachers, etc. Such opportunity-based workforce housing on a regional scale implemented through inclusionary zoning practices, can improve access to growing job centers, high performance schools and affordable housing opportunities.

One hundred and forty cities throughout the country have enacted mandatory inclusionary zoning laws, including Frederick County, MD, Arlington County, VA, Annapolis and Washington DC.

Based on a 10/15/06 presentation by David Rusk, author of 'Baltimore Unbound'

Are you interested in learning more? Here are some sites where you can find useful and up-to-date information . .

Beyond the Boundaries Housing Advocacy
P. Frances Murphy Justice & Peace Initiative
Inclusionary Housing Task Force Final Report
Baltimore City Inclusionary Zoning Bill #06-0558
Affordable Housing and Catholic Social Teaching -
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