More affordable housing is becoming available in Howard with the county’s purchase of a 300-unit apartment community in Columbia.

“It was structurally sound, in very good condition and the rent was already affordable,” said Stacy Spann, the county’s director of Housing and Community Development, discussing the $36 million Columbia Landing community on Tamar Drive.

Rent ranges from around $800 for an efficiency apartment to about $1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment, he said.

“This is the target that made most economic sense for us,” said County Executive Ken Ulman, touting Howard’s commitment to offering affordable housing.

“It’ll be good for the long run.”

The county will maintain the current rent and keep the property management company, Equity Management.

The additional apartments will allow the county’s Housing Commission to increase its affordable housing portfolio size from 400 units to 700 units, said Ulman.

The other units owned by the county include Morningside Park, a senior community in Jessup, and Guilford Gardens in Columbia, where officials hope to break ground for redevelopment next summer, Spann said.

At Columbia Landing, the commission plans to make about $1.2 million in renovations during the next two years.

“This is as much about a preservation opportunity as an effort to maintain affordability in the future,” Spann said.

The complex is at least 94 percent filled with some additional pending contracts, he said.

But as space opens up, the Housing Commission will phase in new renters who quality for moderate-income housing, which is 60 percent of the Baltimore-area median household income or about $47,000 for a family of four, county officials said.

Officials expect 40 percent of the units will be made available to those who likely couldn’t live in the county, including teachers and government workers.

Council Member Calvin Ball, whose district includes Columbia Landing, said he was pleased with the acquisition of the property. 

“This is an important step forward for affordable housing in Howard County,” he said.