Increase Affordable Housing in St. Mary's County

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We, the renters, customers, and residents of St. Mary’s County, demand that the Board of County Commissioners increase the availability of affordable homes by implementing an Inclusionary zoning (IZ) style ordinance with the following mandates:

1. 12% of all rental units in housing complexes must be designated as Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MDPUs).

  • To be an MDPU, a dwelling unit must be affordable to tenants making 40% of the County’s Annual Median Income or below.
  • A dwelling unit will be deemed “affordable” if the monthly rent is no more than 35% of the tenant’s household monthly income on the day the lease was signed.

2. This will only apply to management companies and landlords with 20 or more total dwelling units in their ownership or control.

  • The units designated MDPUs must be located within the same property as the rest of the dwelling units.

3. All management companies and landlords who comply with MPDU requirements will receive a small property tax incentive, and developers who comply with MPDU requirements will receive a density bonus equal to the percentage of MDPUs they make available.

4. 10% of all MPDUs must meet Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards

The need for affordable housing in St. Mary’s County is extremely high. 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. In 2015, Health Resources in Action reported to the St. Mary’s County Health Department that 36.7% of renters overall pay more than 35% of their income to housing. Increasing the availability of affordable housing would decrease the number of “Extremely Low Income” households spending an unreasonable amount of their income on housing, or remaining homeless.

Homelessness in St. Mary’s County, especially in the Lexington Park area, is a problem on the rise. As of 2010, there were nearly 1,900 people in St. Mary’s County who were homeless (Mack, 2010). Although data on the homeless population in St. Mary’s County is lacking and outdated, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (2016) reports that veterans make up 11% of the adult homeless population in the United States. Given the presence and influence of the Patuxent Naval Air Station in our community, it is likely that the proportion in St. Mary’s County is much larger. While the causes of veteran homelessness are varied, and deeply rooted, an increased availability of affordable housing would improve the situation a great deal.

There is a wealth of precedent and data on the effectiveness of IZ. The Montgomery County Planning Commission (2004) reports that “an average of 418 MPDUs have been produced each year” between 1976 and 2004, through their IZ ordinance. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) (2011) reports that “Fairfax County’s program built 2,448 [units] from 1992 to 2011.” The HUD PD&R overall describes their findings on IZ as “promising.” The evidence of results not only stands as a good argument for IZ as a solution to our community’s affordable housing crisis, it provides opportunities for further study of its effects in St. Mary’s County.

References:

Health Resources in Action. (2015). St. Mary’s County, MD: Local Qualitative Health Needs Assessment on Substance Abuse Prevention and Response/Opioid Misuse Prevention Assessment. Retrieved from http://healthystmarys.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Substance-Misuse-Needs-Assessment-St.-Marys-County-2015.pdf

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

Montgomery County Planning Commission. (2004). Frequently Asked Questions. Montgomery Planning. Retrieved from http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/housing/frequently_asked_questions.shtm

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. (2016). Background and Statistics. Retrieved from http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/

Office of Policy Development and Research. (2011). Exploring Inclusionary Zoning’s Effect on Affordable Housing. PD&R Edge: An Online Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/pdredge/pdr_edge_research_012513.html

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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