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Agreement With Baltimore County Hopes To End Widespread Housing Discrimination Against Low-Income Families

Tony Fugett, president of the Baltimore County branch of the NAACP, addresses the press conference. In the background from left are: Robert Strupp, executive director of Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc.; Victor Goode, with the national NAACP; and Susan Tannenbaum, Mistress of Ceremonies. (Baltimore Sun)

Tony Fugett, president of the Baltimore County branch of the NAACP, addresses the press conference. In the background from left are: Robert Strupp, executive director of Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc.; Victor Goode, with the national NAACP; and Susan Tannenbaum, Mistress of Ceremonies. (Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore County officials have announced changes that will end decades of housing discrimination against Black people.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the changes will combat discriminatory practices which kept low-income Black families out of wealthy white areas. For decades, white landlords were able to keep Black residents out of communities such as Cockeysville and White Marsh by refusing to rent to Section 8 recipients. The Sun said the county will spend $30 million over the next decade to encourage developers to build 1,000 homes for low-income Black families in wealthy parts of Baltimore County.

Tony Fugett, president of the Baltimore County NAACP, said the agreement would enable low-income families to move to communities with lower crime rates and better schools.

“Opening up opportunities throughout the county for low-income families to live, work and go to school are the first important steps in creating a more inclusive Baltimore County,” said Fugett in an interview with The Sun. “While only a beginning, it is our hope that this agreement marks a turning of the page from a long history of segregation and exclusion.”

The NAACP, along with Better Neighborhoods Inc. and three county residents, filed a federal housing complaint in 2011, accusing the county of creating segregated clusters of minority renters.

According to The Sun, some sections of Baltimore County managed to keep low-income Black families out by spending most of their federal housing dollars on subsidized housing for elderly, white renters. The county had also demolished and failed to replace 4,100 subsidized housing units since 1995.

Sometimes the discrimination was overt. Democrat Dale Anderson, who served as Baltimore County executive from 1966 to 1974, campaigned on a platform of keeping public housing out of the county.

“The county has come a long way since Dale Anderson,” said Barbara Samuels, managing attorney at the ACLU of Maryland.

The Sun also reported that as part of the agreement, Baltimore County will establish a mobility program, which will help 2,000 Black families on rental subsidies move to prosperous communities.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he would also introduce legislation prohibiting landlords from refusing to rent to people receiving Section 8 vouchers. But some politicians doubted it would pass. A similar bill has already stalled in the state legislature.

“I will be voting for it, but I suspect it is a long shot,” said Julian E. Jones, Jr., who serves on the Baltimore County Council.

Baltimore County is the most segregated jurisdiction in Maryland, according to The Sun.

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