Maryland is tapping into a new federal program to offer $92 million in low-interest financing for affordable housing this year, according to The Baltimore Sun. The funds reportedly should allow developers to build or renovate 1,000 rental units for lower-income Maryland residents.

Because traditional sources of funding—such as mortgages and tax credits—have decreased dramatically, the financing program is meant to prevent a halt to affordable-housing production.

“This has been the most challenging past year for our industry, and everybody’s been affected,” says Kimberly A. Fry, executive director of the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition.

As part of the federal program, the state will loan $257 million to first-time homebuyers this year, which reportedly will finance 1,600 purchases.

Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department temporarily is allowing states to issue mortgage-revenue bonds that it will purchase, fixing the interest rate for developers around 4.5 percent. This means not only lower interest payments but low rates that could allow builders to borrow more so they can build more.

“That’s really the name of the game here—trying to find more resources in an environment where the resources for affordable housing are scarce,” says Andrew Vincent, director of Greater Baltimore AHC, a nonprofit housing developer.

Developers also strongly depend on federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits to help finance construction or renovation of affordable apartments. They sell the credits for cash to other businesses; those businesses then use the credits to lower their taxes. The tax credit program typically raised $8 billion to $9 billion annually before the recession; it raised about half that amount in 2009. It is estimated the amount could rise to $6 billion this year.

Maryland hopes to help fund or finance about 2,200 units of affordable housing this year, which is the same number as in 2009; the Treasury Department’s financing program will account for almost half of those units.