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Best Week, Worst Week: ReBUILD gets affordable housing project started; ballooning deficit more bad news for Md. taxpayers

best-worst-082419An east Baltimore neighborhood saw the start of an affordable housing development designed to breathe new life into East Chase Street, while taxpayers in Maryland found out there will be an extra $800 billion to pay for over the next 10 years, thanks to revised projections of the ballooning U.S. deficit.

Business writer Adam Bednar reported Tuesday that Regina Hammond began organizing ReBUILD Johnston Square roughly six years ago to tackle a host of problems plaguing the east Baltimore neighborhood. Since the group’s inception, Hammond and her neighbors, along with the activist group BUILD Baltimore, have worked to lure affordable housing development to the 700 block of East Chase Street. On Tuesday, Hammond, activists and political leaders gathered in the late summer heat to ceremonially break ground on the $16 million Greenmount and Chase affordable rental project.

Hammond, who has lived in the community for 30 years, said the much-needed project will offer decent, affordable houses that will replace existing homes that have not been maintained for some time. Next door to Mount Vernon and its premium prices, Johnston Square offers much more affordable renting options.

Roughly 70,000 lower-income renter households in the region need affordable units, according to Baltimore Metropolitan Council research released in late 2014. Jurisdictions such as Baltimore, as well as Howard and Anne Arundel counties, have enacted recent measures to provide affordable units.

But activists say that so far those efforts have yet to match the need for affordable housing. Baltimore Housing and Community Development Commissioner Michael Braverman called securing capital “essential” but said that’s only part of the solution to making projects like Greenmount and Chase a reality.

Meanwhile, Maryland taxpayers will have a little bit more to pay to bring down the national deficit; the Congressional Budget Office reported Wednesday that the federal deficit will be $809 billion more than previously expected over 10 years, primarily because of two legislative packages approved this year, pushing the nation further into levels of debt unseen since the end of World War II.

The CBO, a nonpartisan agency, also said the impact of President Donald Trump’s trade war could hurt economic growth amid widespread fears of a recession.

The United States was already expected to hit about $1 trillion in annual deficits next year, but that shortfall will expand by $1.9 trillion in new spending over the next decade thanks to a budget deal reached by congressional Democrats and Trump that includes emergency spending for the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

Trump vowed during the presidential campaign that he would not just balance the budget but pay down the entire national debt.