MAY 8, 2009 SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS
18th Annual Affordable Housing Summit Emphasized Strategies for Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing in a Recovering Economy
The 18th annual Affordable Housing Summit on Friday, May 8 at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center delivered on its promise to provide reasons for optimism to those who provide, develop and preserve affordable housing in Montgomery County.
Federal government officials — including Carol Galante, the newly-appointed HUD official in charge of Multifamily housing — brought news of stimulus programs and exciting opportunities available to developers in both the public and private sectors and she reaffirmed HUD’s strong interest in multifamily rental housing following a decade of misguided interest in homeownership by the federal agency in charge of public and assisted housing.
Keynote Speaker Carol Galante announced: We at HUD are committed to restoring federal leadership on promoting affordable rental housing.
Elected officials, Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett, renewed promises to continue the progress in affordable housing creation that had begun prior to the economy’s downturn.
Ike talked to everyone about the importance of carrying on the progress we have made in developing more affordable housing in Montgomery County. Even though the county is going through one of the toughest economic times it has ever gone through, developing and preserving affordable housing MUST remain a priority Now is the time when people need affordable housing the most; it is not the time to reduce funding. Ike announced that his 2010 budget includes $25 million for affordable housing through the Housing Initiative Fund.
Ike also raised the issue of accessory apartments that is, allowing people to create apartments in their homes and rent them out. He told the group that legislation allowing homeowners to do this is being readied for introduction. The issue should appear on the county’s legislative agenda this year.
Eight Panels convened throughout the day helped the more than 400 attendees learn about new opportunities. Popular panels included The Resurgence of Rental Housing, Stimulus Package Benefitsand Investment Strategies in Uncertain Times.
Other highlights of the conference included:
– Raymond Skinner, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development for the State of Maryland, announced that $28 million from the 2009 Recovery Funding Act will go toward the development of affordable senior and multifamily rental projects in Maryland. This means 22 projects will receive Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and Rental Housing Funds will go toward developing 2,017 units with 215 units specifically targeted for disabled residents.
– The presentation of the Conferences first Builder of the Year award to Prem Puri, a Gaithersburg developer who donated materials worth $600,000 toward the construction of a new 4600 sq. ft. home to a local family who faced homelessness after taking in ten orphaned chidren from a family member who passed away.
– The Conference also presented Eugene F. Ford, Sr. with the Paul Sarbanes Excellence in Community Service award for his tremendous contribution to creating and preserving affordable housing over the past 40 years. Mr. Ford founded Mid-City Financial Corp., Edgewood Management Corp. and CPDC, an affordable housing nonprofit, dedicated to providing affordable homes to low income residents.
One of the most popular parts of the Affordable Housing Conference which by the way is now in its 18th year is the award of funds for closing cost assistance to first time homebuyers in Montgomery County.
Each year, the Conference holds a contest, called Break the Barrier to Home Ownership, and contest applicants are asked to write an essay about What Home Ownership means to me. The winners receive cash awards toward the purchase of their first homes at the conference.
Each year, the awards ceremony is very touching. This year, three winners each received 5,000 and one winner received $7,500. Over the past 18 years, the conference has given away more than $115,000 to first time homebuyers. This of course, would not be possible without the generous donations from the contest’s sponsors. This year’s sponsors were: PNC Bank, MCT Federal Credit Union and the Amanter Fund (a fund created by a private citizen who wishes to remain anonymous), Buffy and William Cafritz and Norman Dreyfuss, of IDI Group Companies and a co-sponsor of the conference.