WESTMINSTER — Insufficient housing for the elderly and the flight of young people to Pennsylvania to find reasonably priced homes are problems affecting much of Carroll, say county and municipal officials.
At the first formal meeting of a new town-county committee to study housing problems Thursday night, representatives from cities and towns discoveredthat although their areas might be different, the housing problems they perceive are much the same.
Representatives from Manchester, Union Bridge, Taneytown and Westminster met with county officials to discuss the most pressing housing problems facing the county.
The committee -- one of three set upby the County Commissioners to study issues that affect the municipalities and the county -- is to be expanded to include representativesfrom each city and town in Carroll.
Staff from the county Department of Economic and Community Development will advise the panel, saidJames C. Threatte, the agency's director.
Hampstead Town Manager and Manchester Councilman John A.Riley was assigned to develop an organizational structure for the committee.
He said that in Hampsteadand Manchester, not much has been done to promote the construction of affordable housing.
"We haven't addressed the problem of housingfor the elderly," said Riley.
Union Bridge Councilman Perry Jonessaid his town is trying to provide affordable housing for the elderly by proposing a development on land that the town government is trying to annex.
Existing housing for elderly people in Union Bridge -- who make up one-third of the town's population -- is "poorly maintained" and consists of two- to three-story buildings that are not accessible to many people, Jones said.
And many young people in Union Bridge are forced to rent because they can't afford to buy homes there, he said.
Riley said some young people -- even some county employees -- cannot afford to buy in Carroll and are moving to Pennsylvania to purchase their first home.
"And now they (young people) are having to go further and further into Pennsylvania to find homes they can afford," Riley said.
Even people who were born and raised in Carroll can't afford to buy here any more, Threatte said.
The new committee will assess the problems in each of the municipalities and recommend solutions to the commissioners, according to Threatte.
"Ihope we can push beyond the conventional to find an answer to the county's housing problems," Threatte said.
Threatte said the committee should look at state and federal funding resources that are open to municipalities, but which have not been pursued by Carroll.
"I think we need to start using all of the resources that are open to us," said Threatte.
"I'm not sure we're doing that now."
No date has been set for the committee's next meeting.