Governor Martin O'Malley today became the first governor in the nation to express support for the National Housing Trust Fund and to request that the Trust receive full funding. The Governor is joining Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake; Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin; and thirty-one additional U.S. Senators who have asked the new Federal Housing Finance Agency Director, Mel Watt, to start requiring that these contributions begin immediately to the National Housing Trust Fund. The O'Malley-Brown Administration is committed to ensuring decent, affordable housing for all Marylanders, and having the partnership of the federal government is critical to strengthening our efforts at the state level.
In 2012, Governor O'Malley launched the Rental Housing Works (RHW) initiative to support jobs and provide much-needed affordable rental housing for Maryland's hardworking families, including seniors and individuals with special needs. The RHW initiative has provided funding for the preservation and construction of over 2800 units of affordable housing and supported over 3700 jobs. The $24 million in the Governor's FY 15 budget is expected to add to those totals by preserving and building over 1,800 units and supporting 2,500 jobs.
"There is no more powerful place in our State than a family's home, and there is nothing more important for protecting that home than a job," said Governor O'Malley. "Working together, we've made the better choice to expand opportunity by creating jobs for more Marylanders rather than less and to invest in priorities that matter to middle class families. We need our federal partners to make vital contributions to the Housing Trust and ensure that hardworking moms and dads across our State have the support they need to thrive and successfully raise their families."
While the State of Maryland has successfully expanded and preserved affordable housing opportunities, the lack of a sustained federal investment has hurt Maryland communities and has reduced the state's ability to meet the demand for affordable housing. To continue moving our state forward, federal subsidies from the Trust are needed, coupled with state funds, to serve Maryland families sufficiently. Maryland alone ranks as the 4th most expensive state or jurisdiction for rental housing in the nation (after Hawaii, Washington, DC, and California) with a shortfall of nearly 110,000 units of housing needed for our lowest income citizens.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a national shortage of 7.1 million affordable rental units. Congress decided more than five years ago to ameliorate this crisis with the National Housing Trust Fund, but since that time and the suspension of allocations to the Funds, the number of homes that are affordable to renters with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income decreased by more than 600,000.