Members of Maryland Delegation Announce Department of Housing and Urban Development Will Immediately End Plan to Cut Assistance for Families in Columbia, Maryland

October 7, 2015
Press Release
Washington, D.C. (October 7, 2015) – Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings joined Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John P. Sarbanes (all D-MD) to announce that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to immediately end its plan to cut housing rental assistance for families in Howard County, particularly Columbia, under the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program. The announcement came after a meeting with HUD Secretary Julian Castro organized by Senator Mikulski. This agreement ensures that Howard County families will not be adversely impacted this year as the agency works towards a long-term solution. The proposed change in policy from HUD was included as part of the agencies’ annual fair market rent update. 
“I am reassured that Columbia’s housing vouchers will not be cut next year,” Congressman Cummings said. “However, families and housing providers deserve the certainty of knowing that the vouchers will not be cut in future years and we will continue to work closely with HUD to ensure that this objective is achieved and that Columbia remains an exceptional community that can be home to families from every walk of life.”
“This is a win for all the families who work hard but need a helping hand to find an affordable place to live and a good school for their kids. And it’s a win for a community that has been committed to affordable housing for more than 50 years,” Senator Mikulski said. “I’m so pleased Secretary Castro has heard the concerns of the people and agreed to scrap the proposed cuts to housing rental assistance in Howard County. Families deserve a government on their side. And today they got one.”
“The Housing Choice Voucher programs and initiatives like it are critical to promoting affordable housing in socio-economically diverse and opportunity-rich communities,” Senator Cardin said. “I’m glad that Secretary Castro has worked with us to find a solution to ensure that families in Columbia continue to get the assistance they need.”
“I am pleased we were able to protect affordable housing for hardworking families in Howard County,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Secretary Castro came to our meeting ready to work with the delegation to solve problems.”
“I am pleased that Senator Mikulski and our congressional delegation responded swiftly to the County’s request and that HUD Secretary Julian Castro has agreed to delay implementation of the proposed guidelines. I am thankful to Senator Mikulski for her leadership and her pledge to remain involved,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. “As we look at planned growth for the County, our shared goal of providing diverse, integrated communities and affirmatively furthering fair housing remains a priority. I am committed to working together with our state’s congressional delegation and regional partners such as the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and Columbia Association to ensure a permanent sustainable solution is developed.”
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from HUD to administer the voucher program.
In September, the Members sent a letter to Secretary Castro urging him to restore this critical housing rental assistance for families in Howard County. A copy of the letter is available here