Prince George’s County residents say housing officials have to do more to aid low-income and disabled residents in securing affordable housing.
“We want to return to community life and become employed and engaged in the community,” said Rochelle Harrod, a Hyattsville resident and disabled housing advocate at a Tuesday meeting in Oxon Hill. “...Those who do want to live and work independently...are finding it becoming increasingly unaffordable.”
Eric C. Brown, DHCD’s executive director, said he expects there will be some new opportunities for housing subsidies and mixed-income housing, where the government provides subsidies to a housing complex to rent some of its units at below-market value in the coming fiscal year, despite federal funding cuts over the past year and the threat of further reductions moving forward.
“In the upcoming year, there are going to be some opportunities, although not all might materialize,” he said.
Brown said that while the agency nearly doubled its targets in fiscal 2012 — finding housing opportunities for 2,352 households — the agency has had to temper its expectations for fiscal 2014 beginning July 1. Figures for 2013 will not become available until the end of fiscal 2013 on June 30.
“Last year [federal programs] were cut, and with sequestration, it could be cut more,” Brown said. “In one program last year, we lost 25 percent of our federal funding and in another we lost 52 percent.”
Brown said his agency could see even more cuts if federal sequestration goes into effect in March.
Everette Bradford, 23, of Capitol Heights said that county officials need to ensure that new apartment complexes are affordable to low-income residents and young adults. He noted that several of the apartment buildings constructed in recent years that target college students and recent graduates are out of many people’s price range.
“Who can afford these?” Bradford asked. “One of the [newer apartment complexes] advertises a one-bedroom apartment for $1,355 per month.”
Brown said the county needs to find a way to strike a balance between affordability for residents and profitability for developers.
“This is something that everybody is struggling with,” Brown said. “It’s one of the major challenges for the county as we try to move forward.”