Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Affordable Housing Bill on Hold

Two of the highest priorities for the Montgomery County Council are affordable housing and economic development. At least that’s what we say. What we do is a different matter altogether.

Today the Montgomery County Council tabled Bill 39-11 which would have fostered the creation of affordable housing through impact tax incentives. The excuse? It hasn’t been fully vetted.

I introduced Bill 39-11 a year and a half ago with three cosponsors. After a public hearing, significant research and two comprehensive work sessions, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee endorsed the bill. That can hardly be called a rush to judgment.

We need more affordable housing not just for downsizing seniors, single heads of household and young starter families to have a decent place to live, but also to support a workforce for a robust economy. The future of our economic development hinges on our ability to retain and attract moderate wage earners and the younger, skilled labor force.

In November 2011, Dr. Stephen Fuller, Director of the Center for Regional Analysis at the George Mason University School of Public Policy told us the top three challenges facing Montgomery County were:

  • Having a sufficient supply and quality of labor to support future job growth;
  • Having sufficient housing resources—in number, variety of types, and range of costs—both for renters and owners to house an increasing share of the county’s workforce thereby reducing the economy’s dependence on commuters to fill the county’s jobs; and
  • Being competitive with other area jurisdictions in terms of location and operating costs and business friendly reputation.
It is time for the Council to start practicing what we preach. Affordable housing is part of the foundation of our future, and we need to use every tool at our disposal to achieve it.

No comments: