Relman, Dane & Colfax is pleased to announce the settlement of a HUD administrative complaint that alleged that the State of Maryland operated its Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program in a manner that violated civil rights laws. The complaint--filed in 2011 on behalf of the Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign--alleged that State policies permitted local officials to block affordable housing from being built in majority white, high opportunity communities. As a consequence, the Campaign alleged, developers in the region had few opportunities to build other than in the poorest and most segregated neighborhoods in the City of Baltimore.
Under the settlement--which comes in the form of a Voluntary Compliance Agreement and Conciliation Agreement approved by HUD on September 22, 2017--Maryland has eliminated the offending policies, adopted others that will promote racial integration, and committed to the development of at least 1,500 units of housing for families with children in high opportunity communities in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard Counties.
The State's competitive scoring system for LIHTC applications will be adjusted to emphasize the development of units with larger bedroom sizes, and to incentivize developments in communities with good schools, safe streets and access to employment and public and private amenities. Maryland will also impose affirmative marketing requirements on developers, with a special emphasis on their outreach to public housing authorities, Housing Choice Voucher agencies and mobility counseling programs. Finally, Maryland will pay $225,000 to support the Campaign's efforts to increase housing choice in the region, and for attorneys' fees and costs.
The firm's litigation team is led by Michael Allen. Barbara Samuels of the ACLU of Maryland was co-counsel.