PMD Montgomery member Liz Dueweke notes that there are two proposals for remedying the affordable housing crunch in MoCo, and sets the landscape of need that both try to tackle.



/By Liz Dueweke/ It’s no secret that living in Montgomery County will cost you a pretty penny. The average two-bedroom apartment in the area costs $1,600 per month, and that’s if you’re lucky. Even if you have a well-paying job, you still might be one of the 50% of renters in Montgomery County that are cost-burdened due to rent (spending 30% or more on their housing). In fact, one-quarter of renters actually spend 50% or more of their income on their housing.

A Lot of Renters, Not Enough Housing

According to the Montgomery County Rental Housing Study rental housing accounts for 33% of all housing in the county. But we don’t have a lot of new units, with only 14% of county supply constructed since 2000. This is just a little concerning, since renters grew from 24% of the population in 2008 to 36% in 2016.

The fact of the matter is, we need more moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs) to give the boost the Montgomery County community needs. According to George Mason University, MoCo needs to produce approximately 6,200 every year to meet the demand of renters through 2040. Fortunately, the Montgomery County council is currently considering two pieces of MPDU legislations. And you can make a difference with your voice.

The Affordable Housing Landscape in MoCo

The Montgomery County Council Public, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee is considering Bill 34-17 and Bill 38-17 on supporting MPDU development. The following outlines the promise, and limitations, of each bill.

Bill 34-17:

The Good

  • Establishes payment to the Housing Initiative Fund (HIF) for developments of 20 fewer units
  • Ties affordable housing recommendations to Montgomery’s median income
  • Allow for larger unit types
  • Clarifies eligibility standards for age-restricted units

Room for Improvement:

  • Allows developers to pay a fee instead of building affordable units.
  • Prioritizes building affordable housing offsite, instead of bringing economic diversity to all of the county
  • No guarantees that fees collected will be used to build housing in the same area from which fees are collected

Bill 38-17:

The Good:

Room for Improvement:

What You Can Do?

In the coming months, the Montgomery County PHED Committee will be holding hearings on both these bills. We encourage reaching out to the sponsors of these two bills to let them know your thoughts within the next week.

Nancy Floreen, Bill 34-17:

Hans Riemer, Bill 38-17:

Learn More about Affordable Housing in MoCo:

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M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...