Howard County offers moderate-income residents chance to buy lost-cost houses

July 8, 2013

Last April, lottery winner Kyla Sullivan, in green, is overcome with emotion as her name is called. Photo by Segesse.

The Washington Post on Saturday published this story on efforts in the region to establish more affordable housing and this story listing several options in the area. This report details one of those listed, called the Moderate Income Housing Unit program.

Howard County house hunters looking for affordable options can send in applications through the end of July to be entered into a lottery for bargain-priced houses.

Available as part of the county Moderate Income Housing Unit (MIHU) program, officials expect to make at least 10 affordable houses available by the end of the year using the lottery system, says Kelly Cimino, chief of homeownership programs at Howard County Housing.

The MIHU program requires developers to set aside a certain number of units for those with moderate incomes.

There are about 400 applicants on the waiting list to buy the MIHU homes, which start at $152,000 for a condo and $275,000 for a townhouse.

“It’s rare that we have someone on the waiting list for more than a year before they’re offered a homeownership opportunity,” says Cimino, adding that some, however, don’t qualify because of credit issues.

To help with the paperwork, the county is sponsoring a MIHU Buyers and Renters Workshop on July 18 at 6 p.m.

The workshop will cover the application process, eligibility requirements and credit scores.

To qualify, household income cannot exceed 80 percent of Howard County’s median income, which is currently $98,953 for a family of four.

However, applicants do not need to be first-time homebuyers, Cimino says.

Applicants’ household income cannot exceed 60 percent of the county median for MIHU rental units, which are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Prospective renters apply at each rental community. A full list is at: www.howardcountymd.gov/housingmihu.htm.

The MIHU houses for sale are located in six new developments including Dorset Gardens, an Elkridge community with four-bedroom townhouses, and Gatherings at Ellicott Mills, a 55-plus adult condo and villa community being built in Ellicott City.

Already this year, 20 houses have been sold to income-eligible buyers through the program, Cimino says.

Enrollment for the MIHU homeownership program is held four times a year: January, April, July and October.

To register for the MIHU workshop, which will be held at the Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive in Columbia, call 410-313-6318 or visit www.howardcountymd.gov/housingmihu.htm.

Laura Barnhardt Cech is a freelance writer.

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