Montgomery County needs more affordable housing! It is becoming extraordinarily difficult for young workers and families to get a foothold here, or for retirees to stay here.
“I Wanted to Stay Here,” was the title of a recent article about affordable housing that was tough to read. To help tackle this crisis, we need more action on affordable housing. Our regional housing plan calls for us to double our annual housing production to alleviate a serious housing shortage.
That is why I am so pleased that the County’s budget for next year makes some enormous strides on housing. In the second part of this series on next year’s budget–the first was on education and workforce–we take a closer look at record funding for affordable housing.
Addressing the high cost of housing and getting our economy rolling again have been my top priorities since taking over as Chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee. I am greatful that my colleagues on the Committee–Councilmembers Will Jawando and Andrew Friedson–have been excellent partners as we have tackled these tough issues.
Good news: the Council approved a proposal I made with support from my colleagues to add $50 million to an affordable housing construction loan fund for the Housing Opportunities Commission, taking to $100 million a revolving loan fund for their innovative housing model.
By now you may have seen email traffic on your local listserv about Thrive Montgomery 2050. Perhaps some of it is alarming.
I’d like to provide some context and clarification for your consideration. I support moving forward with Thrive because I believe we need to be more creative and think differently about housing.
So, what is Thrive anyway?
Thrive is a guide for our community planning process. It is a policy document that is at the “vision and strategy” level.
You’re already living with the policy vision embodied in Thrive. That’s because what Thrive does is update a 1950s “general plan” with the modern planning principles that we have been using for years now.
If you like the changes in development that we are making on Rockville Pike — you can see them in action at Pike & Rose — then you’re valuing the kinds of ideas that Thrive articulates.
So while broadly Thrive is already in use, there are a few important shifts that Thrive also calls for. They don’t happen directly as a result of Thrive, but Planners and the Council will have guidance to consider them in the future.
Our County’s 9 Metro station properties could be delivering enormous benefits to the County — including substantial tax revenues — but instead they are a drag. From a real estate perspective, some are nearly “brownfields” due to the overwhelming expense of building above a station.
The Council has a plan to break the status quo and generate some economic momentum. The legislation, vetoed by the County Executive, would provide a highly targeted property tax abatement exclusively for high rise construction on these 9 Metro station properties.
One of my friends and a giant in Montgomery County housing advocacy, Pamela Lindstrom, asked me to organize a policy forum on Vienna’s social housing model. That conversation led to the event we hosted with the Sierra Club on September. Much of the work to organize the event was conducted by Council staff member Linda McMillan. I am grateful to them both for their support!
Vienna, Austria’s Smart City Strategies for Housing, Energy, and Mobility
SEPTEMBER 14, 2019
Council Office Building
3rd Floor Hearing Room
100 Maryland Ave
Rockville, MD 20850
A special thanks to Pam Lindstrom for helping organize this community conversation.
Dr. Kurt Sturzenbecher, Member of the Vienna City Council
Mrs. Karin Ramser, Director, Vienna Housing Agency Wiener Wohnen
Ms. Katharina Bayer, Architect
Mag. Josef Cser, Director of Wohnservice Wien
Followed by a Q&A with the audience and representatives of County agencies, and remarks from Shruti Bhatnagar, Chair, Sierra Club Montgomery County, MD
Montgomery County has partnered with the University of Maryland and the Embassy of Austria to host an exhibition, provide presentations, and a community discussion on Vienna’s approach to social housing, energy, and mobility. Close to 60 percent of Vienna’s 1.8 million inhabitants live in government-subsidized housing that is rented to them by the municipality or nonprofit housing associations.
Watch the video of the event
Questions? Contact Councilmember Hans Riemer’s office
at 240.777.7964 or Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov