Affordable Housing Assessment Requirement Approved
The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved legislation designed to encourage the creation of new affordable housing by requiring an assessment to accompany the proposal for certain new projects included in the County’s Capital Improvements Program (CIP).
Councilmember Roger Berliner was the lead sponsor of Bill 37-12, which was co-sponsored by Council President Nancy Navarro, Council Vice President Craig Rice and Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer. The bill addresses the County’s need to preserve and create additional affordable housing by requiring that consideration of co-location is given to certain new projects in the CIP, including libraries, fire stations and recreation centers.
“Montgomery County is a national leader on affordable housing, but we can and must do more,” said Councilmember Berliner. “This Bill will ensure that we maximize the use of our own County assets to advance the goal of affordable housing in our County.”
Rick Nelson, the County’s director of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, said: “This bill is another step toward adding affordable housing units to the County’s inventory by ensuring an assessment is performed regarding the appropriateness, and feasibility of, including affordable housing in CIP projects submitted to the Council.”
Council President Navarro said: “I am proud to support this bill because it will help us find innovative opportunities to maximize public resources and improve the quality and quantity of affordable housing in the County.”
Bill 37-12 requires the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Housing Opportunities Commission, the Planning Board or other relevant County departments, to submit an affordable housing assessment for all projects administered by the Department of General Services or the Parking Management Division of the Department of Transportation.
“This is a terrific step in our ongoing commitment to providing affordable housing in Montgomery County,” said Councilmember Floreen, chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee. “To be serious about economic development, we must make sure we have housing available for all components of our workforce, and I am glad we have been able to take on the challenge in creative ways like this.”
“Public land provides our best opportunity to leverage below-market housing for our residents,” said Councilmember Leventhal, who is a member of the PHED Committee. “We are already making this happen with several new projects, including the new Silver Spring Library, which will include senior housing on the property.”
The evaluation, which would be completed while a project is in facility planning, will discuss the feasibility of including affordable housing in the project, the effect of the project on the supply of affordable housing in the immediate area, what capital or operating modifications would promote and maximize affordable housing in the project and what operating budget modifications would be necessary to maintain affordable housing in the project.
“This is a progressive measure that will be very helpful in providing critically needed affordable housing in the County,” said Ralph Bennett, vice chair of the Montgomery County Affordable Housing Conference. “Many of our facilities date from a time when lots and building separations were much larger, and site coverage and bulk much smaller than are either appropriate or necessary today. Housing can be graciously integrated into such sites as, for example, has happened on many Victory Housing assisted living developments around the County.”
Councilmember Ervin, who represents the eastern portion of the County, said: “We have to develop new ways to promote the creation of affordable housing options throughout the county for working families, public employees, seniors and young people who are just beginning their careers. Councilmember Berliner’s bill is another tool that will ensure that we are evaluating potential public-private partnerships to encourage affordable housing.”
Council Vice President Craig Rice said: “This bill will ensure that when we are evaluating future planning in this County via our Capital Improvements Program, we must incorporate our commitment to creating and retaining affordable housing.”