Low Income Housing Tax Credits & Opportunity Housing in Maryland, 2016

Maryland's 2016 Qualified Allocation Plan and accompanying Multifamily Rental Financing Program Guide indicates DHCD will prioritize opportunity projects for families through point incentives. 

Maryland’s 2016 Multifamily Rental Financing Program Guide indicates DHCD will award sixteen (16) points to family projects with reasonable access to jobs, quality schools, and other economic and social benefits, as demonstrated by meeting at least one (1) of the following two (2) criteria:

1. Be located in a “Community of Opportunity” as shown on the Maryland QAP Comprehensive Opportunity Maps posted to the DHCD Web site here. 

The Communities of Opportunity designated on the Maryland QAP Comprehensive Opportunity Maps are based on a “Composite Opportunity Index” developed by DHCD. The Composite Opportunity Index uses publicly-available data and is based on three major factors: community health, economic opportunity, and educational opportunity. To be designated a Community of Opportunity, and mapped as such to the Maryland QAP Comprehensive Opportunity Maps, the community must have a Composite Opportunity Index that it is above the statewide average.

The three major indicators that comprise the Composite Opportunity Index are:

  • Community Health: The community health indicator represents the wealth and quality of life in a community relative to the State average. The community health indicator has six (6) components, as follows: 
    • Median household income obtained from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey (ACS) 2007-2011, five-year estimate. Household income is positively correlated with community health. Higher household incomes support a more diversified economic base and enhance the tax basis and services of its local government. 
    • Ratio of owner-occupied to all occupied housing units (a proxy for homeownership rate) obtained from the ACS 2007-2011, five-year estimate. A higher homeownership rate indicates the economic stability of a community, which is positively correlated with community health. 
    • Median value of owner-occupied housing units obtained from the ACS 2007-2011, five-year estimate. This statistic indicates the strength of a community’s real estate market relative to the average statewide market condition and is highly correlated with community health. 
    • Population growth between 2010 and 2012 obtained from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) 2012 community profile. A component of population growth is the number of people relocating to a community so this measures the quality of life in a community and is positively correlated with community health. 
    • Poverty rate, obtained from the ACS 2007-2011, five-year estimate. The poverty rate highlights the detrimental impact of concentrated poverty on quality of life in a community. This variable is inversely correlated with community health. 
    • Property vacancy rate obtained from the ESRI 2012 community profile. An elevated property vacancy rate negatively impacts community health. Vacant property is often correlated with higher crime and depreciation of property values in a community. 
  • Economic Opportunity: Economic opportunity measures the extent to which a community provides employment opportunity and mobility to its residents. Employment opportunity is measured by the following variables: 
    • Prevailing unemployment rate obtained from the ACS 2007-2011, five-year estimate. This variable, which measures employment opportunity in a community, is inversely related with economic opportunity. 
    • Median commute time to work obtained from the ACS 2007-2011, five-year estimate. The commute time measures proximity to regional employment opportunities and is inversely related with economic opportunity. 
  • Educational Opportunity: Educational opportunity measures the outcomes of student performance and educational attainment in the community. This indicator is measured by the following variables: 
    • Maryland School Assessment (MSA) scores, proficient and advanced, for elementary, middle, and high school students obtained from Maryland Department of Education for the 2011/2012 academic year. These scores play a key role in determining educational advancement as well as opportunities available to students. The MSA scores are positively correlated with educational opportunity. 
    • Percent of population with a college degree (both undergraduate and graduate degrees) obtained from the ACS 2007-2011, five-year estimate. This variable is positively related to educational opportunity. 
    • Percent of population with no high school diploma, obtained from the ACS 2007- 2011, five-year estimate. This variable is inversely related with educational opportunity. 

2. Be located in a geographic area defined by applicable law as a community of opportunity for affordable family housing or identified as such by an order or consent decree entered by a federal or State court of competent jurisdiction or by a settlement agreement to which DHCD or a local government in Maryland is a party. As of the publication of this Guide, DHCD is aware of two such settlements:

1) Baltimore City: The case of Thompson v. HUD. This link provides information on census tracts designated as Communities of Opportunity in the Thompson case.

2) Baltimore County: The Conciliation Agreement among HUD, several complainants, and Baltimore County to designate 116 census tracts in Baltimore County as Communities of Opportunity. These census tracts are outlined in Exhibit F of the Conciliation Agreement found here. 

As detailed in Section E.3 of the Qualified Allocation Plan, all family projects located in a Community of Opportunity will qualify for the State Basis Boost without prior CDA approval.

Contributed By: 
National Housing Trust

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