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Maryland Could Join the Statewide Density Club

The ambitious "Homes for All" plan would include upzoning as only one tool for addressing the acute housing affordability crisis in the state of Maryland.
January 8, 2020, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Maryland State Capital
Sean Pavone

"Maryland will weigh a upzoning bill in 2020, plus a sweeping experiment to build European-style social housing across the state," according to an article by Kriston Capps.

The "Homes for All" legislative package is the work of Maryland House Delegate Vaughn Stewart, reports Capps. The "Homes for All" bills "would attack the affordability crisis on three fronts: by lifting zoning restrictions on new housing, generating a fund for public housing, and establishing new rights for tenants."

Stewart represents Montgomery County, a suburban county that spent recent years embroiled in controversy over a countywide measure to loosen restrictions on the construction on accessory dwelling units as well as another plan to add 10,000 housing units near transit by the year 2030.

Capps points out key differences between the Housing for All plan in Maryland (the bill pertaining to density is called the Modest Home Choices Act of 2020) and a recently proposed legislation in Virginia, especially with regard to statewide zoning reform:

Maryland’s upzoning bill takes a different tack from the law recently introduced by Virginia House Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, which would legalize duplexes across the commonwealth. Instead of a blanket upzoning, Stewart has opted for a more tailored approach. His bill would increase the legally permissible density of housing only in areas with relatively high incomes, concentration of jobs, or access to public transit. It would also raise taxes to fund thousands of units of publicly owned and permanently affordable housing.

Capps also provides details of the two other bills included in the Homes for All package, the Social Housing Act of 2020 and the Tenant Protection Act of 2020.

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Published on Friday, January 3, 2020 in CityLab
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