Incentivize Affordable Housing - Reduce Sewer Connection Costs

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We, the renters, customers, and residents of St. Mary’s County, demand that the Metropolitan Commission of St. Mary’s County (Metcom) incentivize the development of new, affordable, homes. We demand that Metcom institute an immediate price freeze on Capital Contribution Charges for all new subsidized or tax-credit residential units, and for all new residential developments identified to the Metropolitan Commission and the Housing Authority of St. Mary’s County as intended to be “income restricted.” Rates should be frozen at the Fiscal Year 2015 rate for five years, beginning on July 1, 2018.

The availability of affordable housing in St. Mary’s County is extremely low. According to the Urban Institute (2014), in 2013 there were 2,219 “Extremely Low Income” Households (those making less than 30% of the area’s median income) in St. Mary’s County, and only 856 “adequate, affordable, and available” units. As of 2010, there were nearly 1,900 people in St. Mary’s County who were homeless (Mack, 2010).

The profitability of high-rent homes and shopping centers compared to affordable housing is one cause of the dismal lack of housing available to low income households (Sullivan & Anderson, 2017). Metcom’s Capital Contribution Charges exacerbate this fact. According to John Parlett’s January 2017 presentation to the Metcom, Capital Contribution Charges for the 2018 Fiscal Year exceed those of Anne Arundel County by 100% (Mack, 2017).  As such, these charges represent a major disincentive for developing new units – especially those marketed toward low-income households.

Instituting a price freeze on Capital Contribution Charges would create an incentive for developers and property management firms in future years to offer new units as subsidized or tax credit units, or identify new developments as income restricted, thus increasing the availability of affordable housing.

Furthermore, there is precedent for lowering Capital Contribution Charges, and board members have already acknowledged the benefits. During the February 16, 2017 meeting, the board of the Metropolitan Commission agreed to allow 16 units in the Smith Field’s Park project to connect at the Fiscal Year 2011 rate (“Minutes,” 2017). The minutes state that board members admitted they were creating a precedent for future developments asking for lowered rates. More importantly, according to the minutes, board members cited the “benefit to economic development.”  In the same spirit, then, board members should acknowledge an increase in available, affordable units as a major benefit.

We demand that the Metropolitan Commission help increase the availability of affordable housing by instituting a price freeze on Capital Contribution Charges for subsidized and tax-credit units, as well as income restricted developments, keeping them at the FY 2015 rate for five years, starting on July 1, 2018.

References:

Mack, S. (2017). MetCom fees for FY18 higher than other counties. The Baynet. Retrieved from http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0217/metcomfeesforfy18higherthanothercounties.html
Mack, S. (2010). How many are homeless in St. Mary’s County. The Baynet. Retrieved from http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0110/how-many-are-homeless-in-st-marys-county.html

Metropolitan Commission (2017). Minutes: St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission Regular Meeting February 16, 2017. Retrieved from http://metcom.org/sites/all/files/Administration/Minutes/FINAL%20Minutes%20-%20Regular%20Meeting%2002_16_17.pdf

Sullivan, L., & Anderson, M. (2017). Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Few. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2017/05/09/527046451/affordable-housing-program-costs-more-shelters-less

Urban Institute. (2013). Mapping America’s Rental Housing Crisis: St. Mary’s County, MD. Retrieved from http://www.stmaryshousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Mapping-Americas-Rental-Housing-Crisis-St.-Marys-County.pdf



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