Annual Expenditures for Affordable Rental Housing in Baltimore City

The demand for affordable housing in Baltimore, particularly affordable rental housing, is well documented.  More than 3,000 persons are homeless and over twenty percent of all households are annually spending more than half their income on housing.    Most of these severely cost burdened households are poor.  Of the 51,360 households that fall into this category, 92% earn half or less of the area median income (AMI).  75% earn less than one-third of AMI.   For a family of four this is an annual income of less than $27,351.  Two-thirds of the severely cost burdened households earning half or less of AMI are renters.  Much of what is identified as a housing problem in Baltimore is really an income problem.

While the need for affordable housing is commonly understood, what is less well recognized is the immense size and cost of the subsidized affordable housing inventory that currently exists in Baltimore.  For almost eighty years, Baltimore has successfully used federal, state and local programs to create tens of thousands of rental housing units affordable to low-income households.  Over 41,000 such units are currently in the inventory, which continues to grow every year as new units are added.  Almost one-third of the city’s approximately 131,000 rental units are part of this inventory.

Sustaining and adding to this inventory involves the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.  On average, over the past decade, more than 250 new long term affordable units have been added to the inventory annually.  The dominant, but not only, governmental funding sources for these new units have been Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC); the HOME Partnership (HOME) Program; Baltimore City G.O. Bonds, and State of Maryland Rental Housing Production (RHP) Program.  In addition to the units created through these programs, the affordable rental housing inventory has grown by hundreds of units annually for the past fifteen years through the expansion of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (S8 HCV) Program.  This program, which subsidizes rents in the private housing market, now accounts for over 12,800 units of Baltimore’s affordable rental housing inventory.  The average annual costs associated with the above mentioned programs are:

S8 HCV $156,000,000
LIHTC $25,000,000
HOME $3,300,000
Baltimore G.O. Bonds $3,000,000
MD RHP $2,000,000


In addition to creating new units, large sums of money are also spent annually in sustaining and rehabbing the units that are already part of the affordable housing inventory.    Over the past couple of fiscal years, the HABC has annually spent an average of $32,933,000 on physical improvements to public housing developments and for procuring architectural and engineering services.   For the past three years, independent of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, an average of 380 housing units in the existing inventory have been rehabbed per year.  LIHTC (not including funds identified above) and State CDA moneys have been the main public source of support for these rehabs.   This support has averaged $38,300,000 per year.  

The total expended annually through the major rental programs identified above, exclusive of operating costs, comes to $260,533,000. This amount excludes the some $70,000,000 a year in LIHTC funding provided through the RAD program for the rehab of public housing units as the program’s period of operation is limited to a few years.  It also excludes costs associated with housing programs for low-income homeowners.   

Related Documents