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Bill Would Allow Prince George's County To Buy And Rehab Rental Properties

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Some affordable housing advocates in Prince George's County say rental properties are too expensive for a substantial number of county residents or are barely one step above slum housing. As a remedy, they're supporting a bill that would address the problem.

The bill gives the county the right of first refusal when distressed rental properties of 20 or more units go on the market. The county's housing department has two months to secure funding to buy and rehab the property.

"We have a significant number of rental units," says Council woman Mary Lehman, who introduced the bill. "The problem is that many of those are either unaffordable for working people or are in deplorable condition. This legislation, in my mind, is a down payment on rebuilding equality in affordable housing supply."

Money would come from federal and state housing funds, county bonds or partnerships with non-profits.

The measure is opposed by a coalition of developers and rental property owners, who say that government interference in the private housing sector puts them at a competitive disadvantage.

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