The County Council approved plans Monday night to make home ownership more affordable in Anne Arundel County.
The recommendations, proposed by Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, would set up programs to educate home buyers and help them rehabilitate older houses. Another measure would allow developers who build affordable housing to build more homes than zoning law normally permits.
The recommendations were among eight measures proposed last fall by an affordable housing task force headed by Lamb. She and AssistantPlanning and Zoning Officer Kathleen Koch said they decided to focuson three of the recommendations to start.
"There's no question, in Anne Arundel County we need some positive things to happen," Lamb said. "We need to do a lot more, particularly for the working poor, who can't afford to buy a home in the county where they grew up."
Koch said she hopes to have a program in place by fall to educate home buyers on issues like financing and maintenance. She also hopes to have legislation to the council by fall that will make it more profitable for developers to build affordable housing. Koch also will developa plan to help home buyers renovate older houses.
The council's vote is not binding on County Executive Robert R. Neall. However, Myron Wotring, Neall's legislative liaison, told the council that Neall supports the plan.
Several speakers at Monday's meeting said officials should do more to increase the supply of rental housing.
"There is a critical need for additional rental housing in Anne Arundel County," said Charles St. Lawrence, chairman of the Housing Authority'sgoverning board.
The Housing Authority has about 40 unused federal Section 8 housing subsidies, St. Lawrence said, because the agency can't find rental housing cheap enough for people to use them. The agency has been faulted in the past by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for failing to use Section 8 certificates quickly enough.
Diane Goforth of the Anne Arundel Affordable Housing Coalition also urged the county to provide more rental housing. The coalition gave Neall a report in March that said the task force's emphasis on home ownership ignored the needs of the homeless, the poor and the elderly.
In other action Monday, the council added 386 acres inSouth County to the farm preservation program, which gives tax breaks to owners of agriculturally zoned land as long the land is not developed. The land is located near Harwood and Tracy's Landing.