U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


The City of Cumberland is located along the Potomac River in the scenic mountains of Western Maryland. Cumberland serves as the focal point for activity in Allegany County and is the gateway to Western Maryland (See Map 1 - Points of Interest). Economic opportunity is expanding by public and private sector cooperation and a spirit of entrepreneurship harkening back to Cumberland's industrial heritage. Cumberland's vision for the future is nothing less that the best of the past merged with the best of the future, where all residents can grow and prosper together.

Action Plan

The City of Cumberland's Consolidated Plan presents a strategic 5-year vision for housing and community development in this City rich in history and thirsting for economic rebirth. It includes a One-Year action plan for spending approximately $1.4 million of Community Development Block Grant funds in 1995 - 96. These funds will primarily be spent on housing and neighborhood livability activities.

Citizen Participation

The Mayor & City Council of Cumberland designated the Department of Urban Programs to take the lead role and assume responsibility for initiating formal consultation with public and private organizations and individuals concerned with various aspects of the Consolidated Plan. The Department of Urban Programs is responsible for administering the Community Development Block Grant funds and Section 8 program as well as various other housing and community development projects. As part of this process the Department conducted a random sample survey (1% of total population) to obtain views from the general public. In addition, the Department held several work sessions with local service providers to identify the needs and goals for specific segments of the Plan including housing; homeless; employment / economic development / education / job training; health / special needs; public facilities; and public services. The department also conducted two public hearings during different phases of development of the Plan with comments being received for a 30 day period. Copies of the draft plan were also made available for review, and a notice was publicized in the local paper with Public Service Announcements made by the radio stations prior to the 30 day review period. Following the 30 day comment period the Mayor and City Council adopted the Consolidated Plan and it was submitted to HUD on May 22, 1995.


The City of Cumberland is a historic community that thrived in the 1950's during the age of large scale manufacturing. Since that time the City's population has steadily declined and has dropped from over 50,000 persons during the 50's to the current level of 23,706. The median age of City residents has steadily increased during this same time frame and the elderly now comprise one-fourth of the City's total population. The majority of Cumberland residents were white 95% and 5% were African American or other minorities according to 1990 Census data (See Map 3 - Low- and Moderate-Income and Minority Concentrations).

In 1990 median family income (MFI) was $30,300. 64% of all households in Cumberland were low- and moderate-income (with income below 80% of MFI) in 1990 (See Map 2 - Low- and Moderate-Income Concentrations). No ethnic groups were disproportionately represented in any income category. The City's low-income population seemed to concentrate around the older core area of the city.



Since the decline of heavy industry in the Cumberland area, the City has converted to a smaller manufacturing, retail, and tourism form economic base. Through hard work and perseverance, as many jobs have been created as were lost due to the collapse of the "smoke stack" industries. Unemployment levels have remained much higher than the national average, with the 1990 Census reporting a civilian unemployment rate of 7.4%. (See Map 4 - Low- and Moderate-Incomes and Unemployment Levels). The existing housing stock is currently ample with the majority of homes being built prior to 1940 and in need of some degree of rehabilitation.

Housing Needs

City demographics have identified two major housing needs: increasing the affordability of housing and rehabilitating the existing housing stock. Due to 86% of all renter households having income below 50% of MFI, rental assistance is most needed to reduce cost burdens. To address housing quality/condition problems, funds need to be made available to help low- income home owners maintain and repair their homes.

Among low-income renter households, small and large families and the elderly all have a substantial need for assistance, but small families have the greatest housing needs. For low- income owner households the percentage of small and large families in need is greatest, but the elderly still show a substantial need.

Housing Market Conditions

The City of Cumberland has 11,431 year round housing units in 1990, 90% of which were occupied. The division of those units between renter occupied and owner occupied is 45% renters and 55% owner. Vacancy rates for rental units is 7.9% and a 2.25% vacancy rate exists for homes for sale.

After collecting data from the 1990 Census and the City's most recent HAP, it was determined that 36% of all City rental units are considered to be in substandard condition. Of those, 87% are considered to be suitable for rehabilitation. Of all owner occupied units, 35% are considered to be in substandard condition with 80% of them suitable for rehabilitation.

Affordable Housing Needs

Due to the age and geographic location of Cumberland, the ability to provide affordable housing through new construction is typically not possible. The most common means of providing quality affordable housing is through making monies available to rehabilitate the existing housing stock and providing rental and energy assistance programs.

Households at or below 50% of MFI (42% of all households) have the greatest housing cost burden. They need rental and energy assistance, affordable housing options, and owners need rehabilitation assistance. Those low-income renters wishing to make the transition from renters to homeowners need credit counseling, down payment assistance, and a means for correcting minor maintenance/repairs to their homes.

Homeless Needs

During the 1993-94 fiscal year, 543 people were shelter-assisted while 363 had to be turned away due to a lack of resources or facilities. Based on a survey conducted by the State, 63% of those sheltered were individuals, white 37% were families. Emergency shelter as provided to 82% of those served with 15% being placed in transitional housing and 3% being placed in a motel. Relatively the same number of males and females were served and over 83% of all homeless were white.

Cumberland's homeless providers currently have 50 emergency shelter beds of which 12 are designated specifically for families, single women, youth, or domestic violence victims and 24 are designated for men. Fifty-seven beds are available for transitional housing of which 45 are for single adult males and 12 for families, single women, youth, or domestic violence victims. There are currently 10 agencies in Cumberland that offer continuum of care service to the homeless. Two of these agencies provide services specifically for those with special needs. A critical need exists for finances to provide intensive case management for emergency and transitional housing population as well as for those moved directly from homelessness to permanent housing, and additional transitional housing.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

Cumberland's Public Housing Authority currently administers and maintains 430 public housing units. Cumberland's Housing Assistance Office administers the Section 8 Programs which currently consists of 290 Certificates, 166 Vouchers, 60 Moderate Rehabilitation units, and 20 Substantial Rehabilitation units.

Cumberland is fortunate that all 5 Public Housing developments have received substantial modernization since 1978. Additional improvements are scheduled to be completed with funding to be obtained through Comprehensive Grant Program funds. Among public housing units 51% are efficiency or one-bedroom, 28% are two-bedroom, and 21% have three or more bedrooms. Currently there are only 50 persons on the PHA's waiting list.

The Section 8 waiting list is much larger than that for public housing, at 238 persons. Approximately 35% of those on the Section 8 waiting list have housing needs that give them a preference for Section 8 openings. Among Section 8 units, 23% are one bedroom, 48% are two-bedroom, and 29% are three- or more bedrooms. Currently the jurisdiction has no unused rental vouchers or certificates and only 8 vacant moderate rehabilitation units (from a project which was repossessed by the State of Maryland and all tenants were issued Certificates).

Service providers for special needs populations indicated the following needs, in addition to affordable housing:

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Lack of affordable quality housing is one of the most critical housing problems in the Cumberland area. In order to improve the quality of the existing housing stock rehabilitation is necessary. Barriers associated with this process include: historic preservation requirements which often increase the cost of rehabilitation; lead-based paint requirements which are currently very unclear at the State level and have scared some developers away from rehabilitation; and if the City adopts the proposed Enforcement Code landlords will be required to register all rental units and they have stated this will be a burden that will be passed on to the tenant.

Fair Housing

The City of Cumberland is a member of the local Community Housing Resources Board (CHRB). One of the duties of the CHRB is to monitor the Voluntary Affordable Marketing Agreement. In addition, the CHRB is promoting a public awareness campaign which includes television and radio public service announcements and a Fair Housing Calendar contest that is conducted each year in the junior high schools. The winners have their posters printed in a Fair Housing Calendar that is distributed throughout Allegany County. The City is also in the process of having an impediments to fair housing study completed. There are no current court orders, consent decrees, or HUD-imposed sanctions that affect the provision of fair housing remedies.

Lead-Based Paint

Of the 11,431 homes located in the City of Cumberland, 6,248 or 55% of them were built prior to 1940 and 92% of all the houses were constructed prior to 1970, when lead-based paint was still used. Although the exact number of low-income persons living in these homes has not been determined, there is a direct correlation between the older housing stock and the low-income concentrated areas of the City. Both of these groups generally follow the core area of the city. In 1994, 8 homes in the South Cumberland area alone were determined by Environmental Health to contain a high level of lead out of the 22 tested in that area.

Community Development Needs

The Cumberland area takes great pride in being a family oriented community. Therefore many of the community's need centers around the children of our area. These needs include improvements to existing parks and playgrounds, development of a recreation center, increasing the number of child care centers/providers, providing affordable day care, and crime reduction. Other needs to be addressed strive to assist in improving the quality of life for the family as a whole. These needs include life-skills programs, improved employment and child care transportation services, single point-of-service mechanism, promotion of economic development, and improvements to streets, curbs, and sidewalks. Community Development improvements will be given to those projects that occur in areas of low-income concentration that benefit low-income persons. (See Map 2 - Areas of Low-Income Concentration). The City will be conducting a neighborhood conditions study during the next year to determine areas where community development projects should be targeted for neighborhood revitalization efforts.


Vision for Change

Housing problems in Cumberland are primarily related to an aging housing stock and low- incomes although some subgroups (elderly, disables/handicapped, large families) may have some problems unique to their population. Housing priorities and strategies directly reflect those conditions.

Housing and Community Development Priorities and Objectives

Housing objectives focus on increasing the supply of affordable quality housing and the removal of blight influences when rehabilitation is not feasible. Community development objectives will focus around the core of the City and will encourage the revitalization of neighborhoods and commercial areas and promote economic development activities to improve the quality of life for the City's low- and moderate-income residents. The City will be hiring a consultant this year to analyze the City's neighborhoods and determine which should receive concentrated revitalization efforts.

Housing Priorities

Housing Priorities for affordable housing include the provision of housing and financial assistance to promote home ownership, rehabilitation, and rental housing opportunities, and in turn increase the supply of affordable quality housing. In addition, assisted housing residents will continue to be encouraged to become more self-sufficient, the needs of the disabled and other special needs populations will be considered, and the reduction of duplication and simplification of processed will be reviewed and streamlined whenever possible.

Priorities for the reduction of homeless include the undertaking of a homeless needs assessment, additional emergency shelters, better coordination between providers, and the development of one-stop shopping. Although the homeless providers offer all continuum of care services, the next step is to bridge the gap and provide continued case management as a persons moves along that continuum to ensure that they do not fall backwards.

Priorities for non-homeless persons with special needs include coordination of transportation services, improved public awareness, provision of transitional housing for substance abusers, and the development of a one-stop shopping mechanism.

Non-Housing Community Development Priorities

Priorities for public facilities and services include making improvements to the 2 major parks (Constitution and Riverside), analyzing existing neighborhood playgrounds and changing equipment to fit needs of existing demographics, support provision of additional day care providers/facilities, promote fair housing activities, and support life-skills programs. In addition coordination of transportation services and continued crime reduction efforts will be developed.

Priorities for economic development activities include providing training and improving support services such as transportation and day care for low- and moderate- income residents and developing economic opportunities in vacant buildings in the core of the City.

Priorities for other community development activities include infrastructure improvements (streets, sidewalks, and storm drainage), making physical accessibility improvements to streets and sidewalks, and completing several surveys and plans that will help identify priority needs and provide direction for future activity funding.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

The City of Cumberland recognizes the importance of anti-poverty programs and will continue to support existing programs throughout the coming years. In addition to those anti-poverty programs offered by the City, several social service organizations administer programs such as Head Start, family support and child enrichment programs, family crisis, life-skills, job training, self-sufficiency programs, as well as subsidized child care.

Housing & Community Development Resources

Currently there are over 40 agencies in the Cumberland area who provide programs and services to low- and moderate-income residents of the City. Primary federal resources include CDBG, Section 8, public housing, Emergency Shelter Grants, and Shelter Plus Care. Resources from the State of Maryland include Maryland Housing Rehabilitation Program (MHRP), Rental Allowance Program (RAP), state HOME funds, and state Neighborhood Housing Services operating funds. Private programs include the local lenders pool affordable housing program and a wide variety of non-profit initiatives.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

The City of Cumberland Department of Urban Programs is responsible for the Consolidated Plan activities, but a variety of public and private organizations worked in a coordinated effort to develop the goals and strategies of this plan. The City will continue to work with these organizations over the next several years during the development and implementation of the identified priorities and goals. Examples of goals and objectives that will be developed and carried out by other local organizations include Cumberland Neighborhood Housing Services providing 1st time home buyers assistance, continuum of care services provided by homeless agencies, day care offered by a variety of providers, and many non-profits offering housing services in addition to those provided through local governmental agencies. One of the main goals of Cumberland's Consolidated Plan is to identify those areas where services overlap and work together to reduce duplication, communicate more effectively, and work together towards developing a network for one-stop shopping. During this time the City will continue to work with all providers in a coordinated effort.

Although Cumberland believes that a well developed network of governmental agencies, non- profits, and private organizations exists to carry out the Consolidated Plan, it is recognized that gaps do exist in the delivery of services. Specifically within the realm of homelessness, housing, and public service providers overlaps and gaps currently exist. These agencies are committed to working together to fill gaps and provide a more effective delivery of services.


Description of Key Projects

The City of Cumberland's One-Year Action Plan outlines the proposed use of approximately #1.45 million in CDBG funds and program income. These funds will be spent on a variety of activities, including:


Approximately one-half of all the proposed projects for the One-Year Action Plan are City wide projects that serve eligible low- and moderate-income residents throughout the City. Of the remaining projects over 50% are located within the older core area of the City that houses the majority of low-income City residents (See Map 5 and 6- Cumberland's Core Area with Projects, Low-Mod., and Unemployment Identified), and include public service, facility, and infrastructure improvements.

Lead Agencies

City of Cumberland Department of Urban Programs is responsible for ensuring that the Consolidated Plan activities are carried out. Although numerous other agencies worked on this plan and will help to fulfill the goals established the Allegany County Department of Housing and Community Development and the Allegany County Human Resource Development Commission have been the other lead agencies that have worked to develop and implement the City's Consolidated Plan.

Housing Goals

Cumberland's housing goals for the first year include rehabilitating 25 homes; providing homeownership opportunities to 45 first time home buyers; providing short term rental assistance to 70 homeless; provide Section 8 and Public Housing subsidies to 1,080 families; and weatherize 50-75 homes.


MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low- and moderate income concentrations.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 6 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point.

TABLE (without associated map) provides information about the project(s).

To comment on Cumberland's Consolidated Plan, please contact:

Vickie L. George,
Community Development Specialist
(301) 759-6510.

Return to Maryland's Consolidated Plans.