BRHP is dedicated to helping achieve racially and socially equitable public policy that ensures families with low income have access to quality and affordable homes in communities of their choice. As affordable housing advocates we prioritize policy that combats the persistence of income inequality, racial segregation, environmental inequalities, and poverty concentration. On June 22, 2022, BRHP joined the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Beyond the Boundaries Steering Committee and other fair housing organizations to express support for policy that will strengthen inclusionary housing in Baltimore City.
Baltimore’s most recent inclusionary housing law was enacted in 2007 as City Ordinance No. 07-474 and adopted under Inclusionary Housing Requirements Article 13, Subtitle 2B of the Housing and Urban Renewal Baltimore City Code. The bill had intentions to require residential developments to provide affordable units to promote economic diversity, poverty deconcentration and equitable neighborhoods. However, the law expired on June 30, 2022, and only produced 37 affordable housing units in 15 years, rendering it ineffective and merely decorative.
Councilwoman Odette Ramos of District 14 introduced Council Bill 22-0195, “Inclusionary Housing for Baltimore City,” to correct the deficiencies in the expired law and remove barriers to the production of inclusionary housing units. As supporters of this bill, BRHP collaborated with the councilwoman to amplify the importance of having an effective inclusionary housing bill in a city where racial inequalities and segregation continue to imbrue neighborhoods overtly and implicitly.
BRHP Executive Director Adria Crutchfield and BRHP Client Advisory Board member Monica Braxton joined Councilwoman Ramos and the inclusionary housing steering committee at a press conference in front of City Hall to urge city officials to pass Council Bill 22-0195. BRHP’s representatives shared the importance and impact of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program in connecting families to affordable housing and made powerful remarks supporting the strengthened inclusionary housing bill.
According to the 2021 Out of Reach Report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, to afford a 2-bedroom home in Baltimore without paying more than 30% of your income on housing, the average renter must earn an annual income of over $55,000; that’s a wage of $26.62 an hour. However, the current minimum wage in Maryland is only $11.75. As underscored by Crutchfield, “the math ain’t mathin.”
In her remarks to the press, Crutchfield underlined the direct link between access to affordable housing and health outcomes, and the importance of utilizing housing policies, such as inclusionary housing law, to help low- and moderate-income families build wealth and achieve stability. Alongside Crutchfield, Braxton shared how access to affordable housing through the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program made a positive impact in her family’s life.
“It is important to provide more affordable housing options for our families and include us in these new developments,” said Braxton. “We are the heartbeat of this city and providing more options that can give our children a safe place to grow and thrive will only benefit this city for generations to come”.
BRHP was proud to unite with local affordable housing advocates to support policy that will impact generations to come in Baltimore. It is our hope that the impact will be one of progress for all Baltimoreans. As we push City Council for a bill hearing date, we urge the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and Mayor Brandon Scott to take swift and bold action to achieve a successful inclusionary housing policy that will help achieve long-term investments in affordable housing and reduce the longstanding disparities in the most vulnerable communities. With the help of city leadership and housing advocates, BRHP will continue to make incremental and strategic efforts to support inclusionary housing in Baltimore City.
Fiona Mesfun is a policy associate at the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership
For Immediate Release: May 25, 2022
Contact: BRHP, 667-207-2100
Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership (BRHP) announced today that it is the recipient of a $3 million grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to administer Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds to families assisted by the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. BRHP assists over 4,300 families across six jurisdictions throughout the Baltimore region with housing, and the grant will centralize requests for emergency rental assistance.
ERAP funds provide direct financial assistance and housing stability services to renters who are struggling to make payments for their rent and utilities. Assistance can be used for rental arrears, utility and home energy cost arrears, and other expenses related to housing incurred due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 outbreak after March 13, 2020. An application for assistance can be initiated by either a landlord or tenant.
While BRHP provides prospective rental assistance to its participants through the Housing Choice Voucher, the organization is aware of the increasing immediate need for rental assistance for participants who are behind on rent due to COVID-19-related financial hardship. The direct administration of emergency rental assistance by BRHP to program participants and property owners renting to participants will mitigate the risk of eviction and keep families stably housed.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to simplify the process of getting emergency rental assistance into the hands of families who need it most,” said Adria Crutchfield, executive director of the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership. “We are building on our existing infrastructure as a regional housing provider to reach families and property owners faster with less paperwork requirements. In doing so, we are reducing the case load of local jurisdictions also administering ERAP funds.”
On March 8, 2022, BRHP began accepting and reviewing applications for the emergency rental assistance from qualifying participants and property owners of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program. The organization has received over 500 applications and completed review for nearly 60%. Now that the funding has been received, BRHP will issue payments to approved applicants on a rolling basis starting in June. BRHP is working with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and local housing authorities to prevent duplication of assistance.
For more background on the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership: www.brhp.org
For more background on the Maryland State Department of Housing and Community Development’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program: https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Pages/EvictionPrevention/default.aspx
On April 21, BRHP hosted law professor and author, Sheryll Cashin, to discuss her book White Space, Black Hood, and approach to addressing the legacy of redlining and hypersegregation across the country. We hosted this conversation in April during National Fair Housing Month to shift the narrative around poor Black neighborhoods and recommit ourselves to the movement for housing justice. As you may recall, BRHP hosted Dr. Lawrence Brown for a similar conversation in February 2021. As housing mobility leaders and fair housing advocates, we welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation and calls for action to address the injustices our communities face. Our conversation with Professor Cashin highlighted a frustrating history and pattern, but also encouraged us to think about solutions.
Professor Cashin’s call to action: abolition and repair of harmful systems. As a graduating political science student at Morgan State University, learning history is essential to dismantling oppressive policies and practices, and to creating new ones that drive progression and opportunity for all members of community. Professor Cashin kicked off the discussion with a presentation highlighting her more than two decades of research on the processes of residential caste with a particular focus on our home city of Baltimore. Professor Cashin broke down the ways racist policies have created and continue to create high poverty “Black hoods” and high opportunity white spaces. She also outlined steps to abolish the harm processes and repair communities.
Here are my takeaways from the conversation:
1. Progress has always been met with opposition
I learned that throughout history as subordinating Black institutions were removed, new subordinating Black institutions replaced them. Professor Cashin traced the institutions of slavery, Jim Crow, and the ghetto to explain her point. She argues that “hoods” have been created and maintained through policy actions, law, and stereotypes (ex. thugs, ghetto) to justify subordination of groups of people. States overinvest and exclude in affluent white spaces and disinvest, prey upon, and contain in high poverty Black spaces. Professor Cashin outlined three processes of residential caste – boundary maintenance (ex. exclusionary housing, urban renewal displacement), opportunity hoarding (ex. overinvestment and disinvestment of services, public goods, and infrastructure), and surveillance (ex. “War on Drugs”) – and provided recent examples of each with a focus on the cancellation of the Red Line Project, which would have provided a great economic benefit to lower income Baltimoreans.
2. Baltimore is a case study for residential caste in America
During the antebellum era, Baltimore had the largest free Black population among slave-holding states. As late as the 1890s, Black people could live wherever they could buy a house, as there wasn’t a Jim Crow caste at the time. Professor Cashin focuses on Baltimore in the first chapter of her book, using it as a case study for residential caste because of these early progressive beginnings. She argues that Baltimore is the birthplace of this type of neighborhood inequality. During our conversation she referenced two prominent Baltimore legal leaders – W. Ashbie Hawkins and George W.F. McMechen – who were early resisters of inequality in the city. We also reviewed the history of hypersegregation in Baltimore through different planning maps, providing a visual for the city’s evolution to a residential caste system.
3. There is hope for the future
I was inspired to learn that there are solutions to the issues of our cities, and it is as simple as reversing harmful processes. Professor Cashin proposed many strategies, including inclusionary zoning, racial equity investment, and humanization and care. She stresses that historically disadvantaged neighborhoods should be prioritized in investment decisions. One strategy towards humanization that she proposed using was Peacemaker Fellowships to help reduce crime by helping offenders become assets in their community through intentional investment. Professor Cashin also referenced strategies like BRHP’s Baltimore Housing Mobility Program in relocating community members from high-risk communities. Additional strategies included civic mobilization efforts to energize community members that typically would not vote and creating multiracial coalitions in advocacy efforts. In Professor Cashin’s January 2022 op-ed in Politico she highlights the importance of multiracial coalitions working together to dismantle unjust systems.
Since our conversation with Professor Cashin, I feel more confident that there are long-term solutions to end the trauma and exploitation of Black communities. Professor Cashin is bold in her calls to action, and I am encouraged that many of these calls have already been proven to work in other cities. I am inspired to unite with like-minded individuals to be a part of the solution of repairing and rebuilding our communities.
Watch the replay of our event below and let us know what you think.
You can purchase White Space, Black Hood at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/609000/white-space-black-hood-by-sheryll-cashin/.
Jocelyn Daniels is BRHP’s Communications and Special Projects Intern and a graduating senior, studying political science, at Morgan State University.
Momentum grows for Baltimore health and housing demonstration with additional funding from the Weinberg Foundation
For Immediate Release: January 7, 2022
Contact: Tiffani Long, email@example.com, 667-207-2154
Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership (BRHP) announced today that it was the recipient of a $225,000 grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to administer the Healthy Children Voucher Demonstration, a program that will assist 150 Baltimore City families move to better quality housing to improve their health outcomes. The initiative is a partnership between BRHP, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), researchers from Johns Hopkins, and local healthcare providers, and has the goal of addressing underlying causes of poor health, low educational attainment, and intergenerational poverty.
The funding will support the implementation of the program over two years and will operate in conjunction with BRHP’s Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, which helps over 4,300 families annually access and transition to better quality housing and neighborhoods throughout the Baltimore region through a coupling of Housing Choice Vouchers and pre- and post-move counseling services. The program will target families with children who can benefit medically and developmentally from making a move to a healthier home environment.
BRHP previously received a one-year planning phase grant from the Kresge Foundation in 2019 as a part of its Advancing Health Equity Through Housing Initiative followed by a two-year implementation grant from the foundation in June 2021 that will fund the program in conjunction with the Weinberg Foundation grant.
“We are grateful for the support of the Weinberg Foundation towards this critical housing and health initiative. Their longstanding commitment to meeting the basic needs of people experiencing poverty is admirable and we are proud to be a partner,” said Adria Crutchfield, executive director of the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership. “With their support, we will be able to give families access to the supportive housing environments they need to improve their health outcomes.”
The program will launch in 2022 and will track the health outcomes of participants through interviews and surveys following their transition to new homes. The initial focus of the program is to give healthcare providers a mechanism to address patients’ medical conditions through healthier housing.
For more background on the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership: www.brhp.org
For more background on The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation: https://hjweinbergfoundation.org/