This post was originally published on Afro

By Tashi McQueen

Baltimore housing policy drew fire March 22 from the city’s leading civil rights and housing advocates who are threatening to complain to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development unless inclusionary housing is created here.

The Baltimore branch of the NAACP and the Inclusionary Housing Coalition want action by Mayor Brandon Scott and the City Council on a 13-month-old proposal, council bill 22-0195, to require 10 percent of new housing developments set aside for low-income residents, to scrap existing developer waivers from the requirement and to establish an Affordable House Offset Fund in Baltimore. 

“Baltimore city government, Department of Housing and Community Development, Baltimore City Council and the administration of Mayor Brandon Scott have failed to ensure that the city of Baltimore has effective inclusionary housing policy on the books,” Kobi Little, Baltimore Branch NAACP president, said at the news conference in front of city hall. “That failure is unacceptable.”

The NAACP and the Inclusionary Housing Coalition, he said, want to “draw attention to the city’s lack of inclusionary housing policies and call for the city to come in compliance with HUD policies which require cities like Baltimore to have effective inclusionary housing policies.”

A complaint to HUD about the stalled housing bill is in the works, Little said.

“It is the goal of the Baltimore NAACP to ensure that all people in this city have a fair shot and economic opportunity that is free from the burden of White supremacy,” said Kobi Little, president of the Baltimore NAACP. “We shouldn’t have any large developments pop up in this city with high luxury [prices] for rent.”

“We’re standing here today to put the administration, commissioner, members of the Baltimore City Council and the business community on notice,” said Little.

The council bill was proposed in February 2022 but, although Councilwoman Odette Ramos held a rally in October to push for council consideration, the measure has not been advanced from the housing committee.

The coalition action echoes the drive by Councilwoman Odette Ramos (D-District 14), who held a rally in early October 2022 for a push to “stop the stall” on the proposed legislation.

Little said the former inclusionary housing law expired on Jan. 30, 2022.

The city’s actions and inactions are perpetuating segregation in the birthplace of residential redlining and what remains one of the most segregated cities in the country.

Anneke Dunbar-Gronke, the National Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights

This call to action has support from the District of Columbia.

“I commend the Baltimore NAACP and the entire Coalition for standing up and saying this just isn’t right,” said Anneke Dunbar-Gronke of the National Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights, a D.C.-based non-profit advocating for equal justice.

“The city’s actions and inactions are perpetuating segregation in the birthplace of residential redlining and what remains one of the most segregated cities in the country.”

Scott responded to NAACP’s demand by asserting that the expired law was inadequate. 

“I support an Inclusionary Housing Program for Baltimore, but the law needs to work,” said Scott.

“The previous inclusionary housing law failed to create affordable housing opportunities and encourage economic diversity across city neighborhoods. My administration remains committed to working with the City Council and all stakeholders to enact new legislation.”

In a statement issued by his staff, Council President Nick Mosby said he supports the bill.

“Council president Mosby is an ardent supporter of equitable housing for all and he stands with Rev. Little and the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP’s efforts around this matter,” said spokesperson Monica Lewis. “President Mosby is committed to ensuring that the City Council passes legislation that eliminates the inequity and ineffectiveness of previous policies.”

Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.

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