The City of Baltimore has approved only 9% of the low-cost housing projects it says it was supposed to approve

Editorial: Lorena Plaza housing project moves forward. For real this time. It was clear when we first heard the news on Monday that there was a serious problem with the city’s approval process. The city’s Board of Alderman (BOA) approved two development applications totaling 10 million dollars on the same day. The $9.2 million development will put over 400 affordable units on top of three hundred below poverty housing units that include a senior community, low income housing and a daycare center.

The BOA did two things that are incredibly important. First, it voted to ask the U.S. Justice Department to evaluate the city’s approval process. This, in turn, led to a second vote. The second vote ended up being 5-4, with the same 5 who opposed the low-cost housing units voting in favor. All but one of the 5 supporters were in favor of the affordable housing applications. The lone opponent was the City Council Member who voted against affordable housing.

The City Council Member who voted against the affordable housing units was Alderman John Arena himself, who was quoted in his remarks,

“This is a problem with our current approval process. The way we’re currently handling housing projects, we do not get the benefit of having a public meeting before we start construction. We have to put this on hold until the court system settles the argument with a judge.”

There is a lot of misinformation out there about low-cost housing. We hear the term “affordable housing” tossed around a lot and it is frequently used to describe housing that is below market rate. This is not affordable housing. affordable housing refers to housing that is subsidized by the government, such as the Section 8 housing, or it refers to housing that is made available through the City’s Community Development Block Grant program, or HOPE VI funds, or the HOME Program or any other similar program to those mentioned above.

A new report from the Associated Press (AP) shows the city has approved only 9% of the low-cost housing projects that have been proposed. According to the AP,

“…the city has approved only about a quarter of the projects for low-cost housing it says it was supposed to approve…”

They went on to say,

“’There’s very little affordable housing in the city that costs less than $150,

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