The following is an op-ed piece from the Fort Howard Community Association (FHCA). Pay particular attention to the first paragraph in opposition to Councilman Crandell’s statement.
The bottom line is that Councilman Crandell’s statement is misleading.
Also, be sure to read the following timely piece published by Councilman Wade Kach regarding the county’s efforts to stack the deck with land development attorneys–a move that will impact this important issue for the next 10 years.
Pay particular attention to the date of the hearing–the Tuesday after the Presidents Day holiday.
This is commonly referred to as a “document dump” in the hopes of slipping this legislation past the public right after a holiday.
Councilman Todd Crandell addresses potential development in Fort Howard, Maryland regarding the March 9, 2016 Baltimore County Conciliation Agreement Affordable Housing settlement between United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Baltimore County on his Facebook.
FHCA’s response follows Mr. Crandell’s Facebook post.
Let’s nip this in the bud right now. Very irresponsible people, apparently intent on inflaming emotion surrounding the future of the Ft. Howard VA property, have posted completely false rumors about the future of the property. There is absolutely no plan for Section 8 housing at the site. Low income or subsidized housing has never been part of the discussions I have had with the potential developer. While I am not in favor of the latest development plan, discussions continue, but I cannot stress enough – NO Section 8 at Ft. Howard and I question the credibility of those who posted otherwise. Thanks to those who have contacted us about this.
To All Interested Parties”
Please closely examine the authorities the content of the post was referenced.
1) The Baltimore County Conciliation Agreement Affordable Housing settlement between United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Baltimore County areas map clearly shows Fort Howard, Maryland 21052 colored in yellow.
The map legend “Eligible Areas,” assigns yellow area as “Unlimited number of hard units(section 8 housing) allowed.” This map was directly copied from the Baltimore County government website page speaking of agreement between Baltimore County and HUD.
2) In the 2011 Fort Howard Development YouTube addressed affordability at the VA campus. The VA lease mandates the housing for 50 at risk veterans.
3) County Executive Kevin Kamenetz was required to introduce the Bill 46-16 as part of a settlement between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Baltimore County to address discriminatory housing practices.
District 4 Councilman Julian Jones and dozens of fair housing advocates from churches and non-profit organizations, and people representing management companies, real estate agents and landlords who opposed the bill. Very simply, Jones said, the bill is about “prejudice and discrimination.”
Jones said, “If someone gets a voucher today, they have two choices—east side and west side. You can’t go to Towson, you can’t go to Lutherville, you can’t go to Cockeysville because all of those apartments are saying ‘no vouchers.’ If nothing changes, what makes you think that number will not grow. If you disburse it evenly, then it’s not a burden on anybody.”
Shortly after the meeting, Kamenetz said, “The deconcentration of poverty remains a very important goal, and one to which I am committed.”
According to the terms of the agreement, the bill must be reintroduced after Maryland 2018 gubernatorial elections.
Del. Stephen Lafferty has co-sponsored similar state legislation, House Bill 769, the Home Act of 2016, which also extended to other real estate transactions, such as home sales, and broadened the definition of source of income to inheritance, gifts and pensions.
“People have to better understand the value [of the issue]. A lot of it is education,” Lafferty said. “I’m hopeful individual council members will reach out to advocates to get better educated, to better understand the data and better understand the implications and really think harder about some of the testimony about how vouchers have made a difference in their lives. It’s a very difficult political issue. Baltimore County is a very hyper-segregated county where discrimination has been rampant.”
Jones said, “We have landlords who accept vouchers who voted against the bill. Some landlords don’t want tenants to have choices. They want them to stay right there [in certain areas and complexes]. “I did my best to convince people,” Jones said. “I think was the right thing to do.”
Uncomfortable as it is, Section 8 Housing in Fort Howard IS on the table as stated “Eligible for unlimited hard units.” on the map legend, keeping in mind according to the terms of the agreement, the bill must be reintroduced after Maryland 2018 gubernatorial election cycle.
And with 400 rental houses and 3 high rise apartment building rental development on less the 70 acres excluding historic district buildings and roads requiring financing. Bankers requiring repayment and developers facing the reality of that debt service, in bad economies or in economically depressed areas may not be so discriminatory to whom they rent and “take it where they can get it.”
4) Given the VA property in Baltimore County is leased from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to Fort Howard Development LLC and Baltimore County settled with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is conceivable the Federal government is sympathetic to the spirit of the conciliation agreement.
Furthermore, no provision has been identified in the Veterans Administrations Enhanced Use Lease precluding renters at the VA property using Section 8 Housing vouchers for rent payment.
5) Merely because Section 8 Housing has never been part of the discussion you have had with the potential developer does not automatically equate into the developer not having Section 8 Housing discussions with others you are not included.
In closing, we encourage and welcome all to participate in this debate exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of speech with respect.
Please thoroughly examine the data. And we look forward to your reply on Facebook.
It is Baltimore County and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s credibility you question, not ours. We are just the errand boys of the their message.
Please introduce legislation to have Fort Howard, Maryland removed from being subject to “Unlimited number of hard units (section 8 housing,) allowed, per the Baltimore County Conciliation Agreement Affordable Housing map.
At our communities’ service,
“It’s our community, let’s take care of it.”