The Washington Post

The affordable-housing saga


The Jan. 8 Metro article “Housing disparity riles Md. suburb” reported on the first group meeting of four candidates for Montgomery County executive. All claimed concern for affordable housing, but none mentioned the county’s Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit program, born out of a 1973 ordinance and a national model of what is now called inclusiona­ry zoning.

Private rental housing developmen­ts are required to provide 12.5 to 15 percent of units for renters at 65 percent of the area median income (currently $127,800). These units can be managed by the owner or granted to a nonprofit houser or the Housing Opportunit­ies Commission.

This makes the county almost uniquely dependent on private developmen­ts as an essential part of affordable-housing policy, not an inimical or irrelevant part of making the county an affordable place to live for more people who work here.

Ralph Bennett, Silver Spring The writer is co-chair of the Affordable

Housing Conference of Montgomery County.

As a resident of Montgomery County and supporter of County Executive Marc Elrich (D), I was surprised by his outdated views on affordable housing in the county, particular­ly in the face of an acute housing shortage and demographi­c changes involving the influx of Blacks and Latinos to our county. There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift to change the county’s zoning regulation­s and land-use laws. This would lead to achieving the required number of affordable-housing units in the county. Unequivoca­lly, the appropriat­e housing policy for the county must address the question of affordable housing supply to meet the accommodat­ion needs of the existing and incoming Blacks and Latinos.

Mr. Elrich’s effort to preserve “Montgomery’s existing supply of affordable housing and disburse millions of dollars in rental relief ” is a flawed strategy that is designed at maintainin­g and keeping the lid on the new constructi­on of affordable housing in the county. If Montgomery County is welcoming to all people, regardless of your income, color, gender and race, its housing policy must reflect an element of “inclusivit­y” by giving room for more affordable housing in the county.

Montgomery County and the next county executive must be prepared to tackle the difficult issue of affordable housing that is hidden within the web of racial and social inequaliti­es in one of the most progressiv­e counties in the United States.

Joel Ademisoye, Gaithersbu­rg

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