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Blog: Creating Equal Ladders of Opportunity in Baltimore


Location: Washington, DC

Yesterday I traveled to Baltimore, MD to tour the renovated housing units in the Barclay neighborhood and to announce HUD's initial award of Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, to the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC). I also brought additional good news in that HUD was awarding more than $1.8 billion in capital funds to public housing authorities in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to make major large-scale improvements to the nation's 1.1 million public housing units. HABC would be receiving more than $17 million of that funding. I was joined by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Ray Skinner and HABC Commissioner Paul Graziano.

The housing models we toured were great examples of what can happen when public-private partnerships come together to create quality, affordable housing. Telesis, the developer of the project, has been working closely with the city of Baltimore for years to rehab hundreds of units and their work is nothing short of remarkable. Many units in that neighborhood had not been renovated in over 40 years, so to see the updated models is a true testament to why we need to invest more money in updating our nation's housing stock.

Under RAD, HABC will be able to convert more than 4,000 units of its housing inventory to the Section 8 platform. This will allow the housing authority to use the proven Section 8 model to harness new resources, such as debt and equity financing, to preserve and recapitalize public housing. Based on the extent of need in Baltimore and a successful initial application, Baltimore and HABC are receiving one of the largest awards in the country and we expect they will lead the way in showing how RAD can preserve and improve vitally important public housing properties.With this authority, HABC will be able to tackle well over a third of the $800 million in needed repairs over the next 2-4 years. Without the authority, it would take HABCmore than 60 years to come up with the same amount of repair funds not to mention, conditions in those properties will continue to grow worse. So far nearly 400 Public Housing Authorities have applied for RAD authority to improve more than 1,000 public housing properties including 180,000 units- in need of repair. If these projects move forward under RAD, it could generate over $6 billion in additional funding taking down nearly a quarter of that $25 billion backlog in just a few years' time.

Unfortunately, our nation faces a backlog of over $25 billion in capital needs for public housing across the country. If we do nothing to renovate our current stock of housing, this nation will lose approximately 10,000 units of public housing units annually. While Congress continues to provide some resources to preserve and improve our public housing properties, over the past few years it has simply not been enough to sustain for today, let alone for the next generation. That's why RAD is so important.

This is, as President Obama has said, is a make or break moment for the middle class and those striving to get there. The President has made clear that we must build an economy that works for every American because no matter where you grow up, you deserve an equal chance at a good life and to move up the ladders of opportunity.

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