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Baltimore City Council considers tax hikes to pay for affordable housing

In a city where many struggle to make monthly rent payments, the Baltimore City Council is considering raising taxes on property sales and inheritances to provide $10 million annually for affordable housing.

City Councilman Bill Henry submitted legislation Thursday to raise the recording fee by 20 percent and and transfer taxes by 17 percent, respectively, to provide a “sustainable revenue source” for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund — a new fund created by the voters that currently has no money in it.

Henry said the tax increase would result in about $10 million more each year.

If passed, the bill would raise the recording fee charged on every $500 worth of property sold from $5 to $6. That means on the sale of a $100,000 house, about $200 would go to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The transfer tax charged on inheritances would rise from 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent.

“Baltimore City is a difficult place to live right now for a lot of people. They just don’t have the money and the resources to pay all of their bills,” Henry said. “Society has a responsibility to address that.”

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said council members plan to study Henry’s legislation, along with other ideas to raise money, on a task force he’s creating dedicated to funding more affordable housing in Baltimore.

He and fellow City Councilman John Bullock submitted legislation Thursday to create the task force, which will make recommendations about new revenue streams for affordable housing.

Young said he was disappointed that his past attempts to create more housing for the poor have been unsuccessful. He lamented the weakness of the city’s current inclusionary housing law, which has been in effect for a decade with meager results.

“What I’m hoping doesn’t happen is what happened last time,” Young said. “I had a very strong inclusionary housing bill…

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