While new construction has brought many condos and apartments to downtown Silver Spring, there’s a lack of affordable rental units. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
The key findings and recommendations of a countywide Rental Housing Study is expected to be presented to the County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee following a recent presentation to the Planning Board.
The two-year study was done for the Montgomery County Planning Department and the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs by consulting firms RKG Associates and Lisa Sturtevant and Associates.
Many of the recommendations are technical and primarily affect developers, such as potential zoning changes, how the requirement for moderately priced dwelling units are calculated and so forth, some of the recommendations are for policy changes.
Those include, according to a press release:
- Converting underutilized buildings, including schools and offices, into affordable housing.
- Revising current density bonus programs to reflect development costs and economic conditions more accurately.
- Expanding use of land owned by the government and non-profits for affordable units.
- Conducting a review of parking requirements, including for MPDUs.
The Octave 1320 at 1320 Fenwick Lane is an example of the first recommendation, as it is a converted office building offering condominiums designed to be affordable for first-time buyers.
There is also a proposal to convert the Guardian Building at the corner of Cameron Street and Georgia Avenue into housing.
Other recommendations include increasing county funding for price-controlled rental housing preservation and development, and “providing credit counseling for income-qualified households to make them more creditworthy tenants.”
The study found that about 30 percent of the county’s housing stock is rental housing. However, it also concludes that the market is short about 20,000 rental units for households earning less than 30 percent of area median income (which would be about $32,100).
The Rental Housing Study is available online for public review.