When I first took office, a major concern in our communities was the high number of federal section 8 housing. It’s long been an issue of concern, and individuals feel powerless to resist the federal government’s influence on our communities.
I was not surprised to learn that our district has the most rental units of any other in the county. The information and specifics on who has a section 8 housing voucher is protected under law by our federal government. However, anecdotally it was clear that we had more than our fair share, and we have had enough of this.
I fought the expansion of section 8 in our district at every opportunity. In 2016, as a requirement of a legal settlement entered into by the late County Executive, bill 46-16 came before the Council which would have forced all rental property owners to enter into a contract with the federal government and accept section 8. I voted against this bill and it failed to pass the Council. It will come back in the future, under new County Executives, and I will vote against it every single time.
Still, the pressure from the federal agency HUD and those who advocate for more Section 8 is relentless. I have rejected numerous proposals for Planned Unit Developments that would create more vouchered housing in our district. I will continue to advise these developers to go back to the drawing board and propose projects that are more suited to our vision.
During final budget hearings on the morning of May 24th, I took the opportunity to defend against yet more of this same thing. Buried in the Fiscal Year 2019 County budget was a line item for over $4 million in increased section 8 funding. While the reasoning for the increase was explained as being necessary to stave off higher rent costs, it could also be used to expand the program. I sponsored an amendment from the floor to cut this $4 million from the budget, and my two Republican colleagues joined me in voting yes to the cut. However, the amendment failed along party lines and the $4 million remained in the budget for this upcoming year. Additionally, during budget deliberations, I motioned for a $3 million cut in the fund that pays off the $30 million dollar commitment to create more affordable housing in Baltimore County. This too, failed along party lines.
I cannot allow this issue to threaten our progress, I will always vote against the expansion of this program and its detrimental effects to our communities.