County Planners Studying Ways to Bring Attainable House Throughout Area

More affordable and suitable housing throughout the county, particularly in areas close to public transportation, shopping and restaurants; smaller homes that renters could afford to purchase; and more duplexes, townhouses and triplexes as opposed to mansions may populate a future Montgomery County.

On Thursday, the Montgomery County Planning Department briefed the planning board on its study of attainable housing strategies that it hopes to present to the county council in July. Attainable housing is unsubsidized market-rate housing that is appropriate and suitable for current and future county households, according to the initiative.

The goal of the initiative is “to spur more diverse types of housing in more parts of the county,” said Jason Sartori, the department’s countywide planning and policy chief.

The county needs more housing, especially middle-priced housing, in all sections, he said, noting that his department is looking at numerous ways to achieve that. Rezoning, loan funding, local map amendments and expedited review are some of the ideas being studied.

For many decades, areas in Montgomery County kept minorities out, through discriminatory lending and covenants. It is important “reverse these historic inequities,” Satori said.

New homes should be both the right size and right price. A family of four may find an affordable place to live, but if it is only one bedroom, it would not be the right size, explained Lisa Govoni, the department’s housing planner.

“Single family homes in Montgomery County are also getting larger,” especially where homeowners tear down current homes and rebuild much larger residences on the same site, she said.

The average single family home in the county between 2010 and 2019 was 3,705 square feet. Between 1980 and 1989, it was 2,499 square feet and from 1950 to 1959, it was only 1,567 square feet.

The county has set a goal to increase its housing supply to meet the demands of 200,000 more residents by 2045.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.


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