The Washington Post

O’Malley highlights Md.’s affordable housing efforts

“We have a little bit of a theme going today.”

So noted Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) at the first of three events in three different Maryland counties Monday, all designed to highlight his administration’s commitment to affordable housing.

The first event, in Anne Arundel County, served to announce a pilot program intended to lower the cost of rental housing for people with disabilities who are reliant on Social Security.

Under a partnership that is “unique in the country,” O’Malley said, the Maryland-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation will donate $1 million to subsidize apartment units for disabled people in larger complexes. The money is expected to make available 12 to 15 units over the course of 40 years.

While relatively modest in scope, state housing officials said they hope it will serve as a model for similar programs in the future.

Donn Weinberg, chairman of the foundation, called it a “scratching the surface kind of grant” while standing with O’Malley and other administration officials outside an existing complex in Annapolis that he said is similar to what is envisioned under the new partnership.

From Annapolis, O’Malley zipped to Prince George’s County for an event to highlight his administration’s rapid use of new federal funding to stem home foreclosures.

The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, launched in April, provides loans to homeowners facing foreclosure due to a loss of job-related income or illnesses.

The event was held on the front lawn of a divorced mother in Bowie who was among the first to take advantage of the new program. Before highlighting her story and that of another loan recipient, O’Malley — who has a side career as a Celtic rock musician — spent about 10 minutes inside coaching the woman’s son on acoustic guitar.

“We live in a very cynical time, and we need to show results for the dollars we’ve expended,” O’Malley said as he shared the homeowners’ stories and urged others facing foreclosures to seek help.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who joined O’Malley in Bowie, later received an award at the governor’s third housing event of the day.

At the Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery County, Brown was recognized for work related to Maryland’s preparation for the federal base realignment and closure process.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.


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