Dundalk Patch received this letter from Kathy Howard, general counsel for Regional Management, to blogger Buzz Beeler in response to a blog post he wrote about a community meeting called to discuss the high concentration of subsidized housing in eastern Baltimore County, and proposed legislation that would more fairly distribute the use of housing vouchers:
Dear Mr. Beeler:
I noticed your blog about the recent community meeting regarding the HOME Act, which I attended.
I work for Regional Management, the property manager for the Eastfield Townhouses. We do not participate in the housing voucher program but do provide professionally-managed affordable market-rate housing.
Although we believe that housing assistance for the poor and underserved and de-concentration of poverty are worthy public goals, we do not believe that changing discrimination laws is the most effective means to achieve these goals. The HOME Act would not provide more funding or guarantee a shift in voucher use to other areas of the county. It would achieve its goal through inclusion of "source of income" as a protected class under non-discrimination laws. If the rents in Dundalk are lower than those in Towson or White Marsh, logic dictates that housing voucher use would be even more prevalent in Dundalk when the remaining Dundalk landlords who are not presently participating in what is otherwise voluntary program are required to enter into the contract with the government or be in violation of anti-discrimination laws.
One of the reasons landlords opt not to participate in the program is that they believe that the housing voucher program restricts their ability to properly manage their properties when the few people in the program misbehave or cause problems for other law abiding neighbors (renters or owners). In our company’s case, another reason is that we do not wish to be a forced partner of the government which can unilaterally modify the terms of our agreement with it.
We believe a better approach would be to address these issues through strategic
housing laws rather than the blunt approach of discrimination laws. It would allow more flexibility if lawmakers saw down the road that further concentration was occurring. It also does not make sense to exempt smaller landlords and those receiving tax credits on their properties from the HOME Act if discrimination rather than housing is truly the issue. If “source of income” is a protected class, then nobody should be exempted.
We anticipate working with legislators, the community and advocates regarding these issues during the session and beyond to evaluate more sensible ways of tackling the problem.
I would be happy to discuss this issue further with you to provide you with more
information that you can use as you reach your conclusions about the HOME Act.
Regional Management, Inc.
Editor's Note: This letter was published in its entirety, as received.