CROWNSVILLE, MD (January 28, 2013) - The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation announced it will expand its initial funding for the Maryland Affordable Rental Housing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities initiative, providing an additional $1 million investment in the program.
Governor Martin O'Malley joined Weinberg Foundation Chairman Donn Weinberg and Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond A. Skinner in May 2011 to announce the landmark partnership to finance affordable, quality, independent, integrated housing opportunities for very low income persons with disabilities who meet certain eligibility criteria. The additional funding doubles the Weinberg Foundation's total commitment for the initiative to $2 million.
"The Weinberg Foundation has long been one of Maryland's great partners in creating and preserving safe, decent, and affordable rental housing," said Secretary Skinner. "This additional funding will enable us to further expand housing opportunities that support independent living for individuals with disabilities."
"The Weinberg Foundation is especially proud of this program and its partnership with the State of Maryland as we work to provide persons with disabilities greater choice and independence in their daily lives," said Donn Weinberg. "We are also thrilled to announce a $1 million grant for similar deeply-affordable housing in Illinois, reinforcing what the foundation hopes will become a national trend."
Stan Goldman, Weinberg Foundation program director for disabilities, added, "Our focus groups with young people with multiple disabilities reveal the same desire: 'We want a place of our own.'"
The 2011 "Weinberg Apartment" initiative was facilitated by the Maryland departments of disabilities, housing and community development and health and mental hygiene. As part of the original agreement, the Weinberg Foundation provided $1 million over two years to be used as grant funds to cover capital costs for properties approved for other DHCD rental housing financing, including federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The designated "Weinberg Apartments" will have very low rents so that they are affordable to non-elderly disabled households with incomes at 15 to 30 percent of the area median. Those households will be referred to the program by the department of health and mental hygiene.
"Lack of affordable housing is one of the most critical issues facing individuals with disabilities who want to live and work more independently," said Maryland Department of Disabilities Secretary Catherine A. Raggio. "The Weinberg Foundation's investment is helping Maryland create an exciting model program that will produce more affordable housing for people with disabilities."
Currently, there are two developments that have been accepted as part of the Weinberg Apartment initiative. Hudson Townhomes, a 48-unit townhouse community in Cambridge, is an affordable housing community that features two, three and four bedroom townhouses. Two Hudson Townhomes units have been reserved as Weinberg Apartments for persons with disabilities. The project is scheduled for occupancy in early 2013. Parkview Towers is an existing apartment complex located in Takoma Park that is being renovated as an affordable rental property. Renovations to the 125-unit building will begin in early 2013 with occupancy scheduled for summer 2013. Parkview Towers features efficiencies, one and two bedroom apartments. Five of the units will be reserved for Weinberg Apartments for individuals with disabilities.
"Individuals who are ready to live on their own need a place to call home", said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the department of health and mental hygiene. "With this grant, we can help make that a reality."
Under the initiative, the departments of disabilities and health and mental hygiene target eligible disabled households and refer tenants to the units on lease-up and turnover. DHCD is responsible for closing the financing, disbursing the funds for construction, and monitoring the projects for compliance with the long-term Weinberg unit requirements. This process ensures that the Weinberg units are made available to very-low income persons with a range of disabilities who are prepared and ready to be successful living independently.
Persons interested in applying for a Weinberg apartment should contact John Brennan of the Department of Disabilities at (410) 767-3660.
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