Housing For Poor Sought

June 19, 1991

A group of developers, civic leaders and elected officials last weeksaid at least 10 percent of all new residential development here in the next decade should be reserved for people with low or moderate incomes.

The approximately 85 people attending the second phase of aconference on "cost-effective housing" also recommended that the County Council enact legislation to give developers incentive to build such housing.

The model for the legislation is an "inclusionary zoning" law nowused in Montgomery County. There, every development of 50 or more units must include a few moderately priced units. In return, the developer is permitted to build more units than the zoning would otherwise allow.

When the idea was put forward last month in the first phaseof the conference, former Montgomery County Council member Norman Christeller told the group that the program has been "extremely suc

cessful" and that recent studies show land values are not adversely affected when moderately priced dwellings are mixed into a subdivision.

The main drawback, he said, is that the supply of moderately priced units is very small in proportion to the demand. Buyers of those units are chosen by lot from an eligibility list. As many as 1,000 people have applied for as few as 20 units, Christeller said.

Since Howard County's 1990 General Plan limits residential construction to an average of 2,500 units a year, 250 low- and moderate-income units would be added to the county housing stock each year if the 10 percent guideline is adhered to.

Low income is defined as less than 50 percent of the area's median income, or $20,250 for a family of four. Moderate income is defined as 80 percent or less -- $32,400 for a family of four.

About 800 county residents are currently on a waitinglist for subsidized housing.

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