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Maryland 10-Year Strategic Plan Offers Regulatory Solutions That Address Housing Needs


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Maryland 10-Year Strategic Plan Offers Regulatory Solutions That Address Housing Needs

Photograph of the front façades of three 2-story townhouses with a bay window next to the front door. The Maryland Housing Needs Assessment & 10-Year Strategic Plan includes a toolbox of actions to provide needed housing that addresses several priority outcomes.

Over the next 10 years, Maryland officials expect the composition of the state’s population to change as more persons of color and lower-income households enter the state. This projection, along with existing housing shortages, led the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to commission a plan to ensure the state becomes a more affordable and equitable place to live by 2030. The Maryland Housing Needs Assessment & 10-Year Strategic Plan identifies the state’s priority housing needs and presents a toolbox of more than 70 action items to address those needs. In addition to a description and implementation guidelines, each proposed action aligns with one of four primary outcomes outlined in the plan. The outcome of economic growth aside, the outcomes most reliant on actions that reduce regulatory barriers are balanced supply and demand, increased housing affordability, and access to opportunity.

Because of the existing housing shortage and anticipated increase in housing demand with population growth, the toolbox proposes actions to increase housing supply to help balance demand. Noting that many zoning ordinances restrict large amounts of land to single-family residential use, the plan proposes that jurisdictions streamline the process of rezoning single-family districts as multifamily districts. Rezoning will not only increase the state’s housing supply but also improve housing choice in areas previously inaccessible to lower-income households. Jurisdictions can also increase the supply of multifamily housing by aligning administrative fees with construction costs, which vary according to the development size. Lower fees would increase the financial feasibility of constructing small- and medium-sized multifamily buildings. These buildings are well suited for infill development and can improve housing and income diversity in single-family neighborhoods.

The actions discussed above are intended to reduce costs and increase income for developers. Many actions in the toolbox, such as the adoption of local inclusionary zoning, target affordability for renters and homeowners. By including affordable units within market-rate developments, the report identifies inclusionary zoning as a way for local governments to create a housing supply that is balanced with demands from households of different income levels. Inclusionary zoning, which jurisdictions can make mandatory or voluntary under Maryland law, should be crafted so that it is effective within the realities of the local real estate market. For example, where developers could benefit from a flexible program, localities should consider giving developers options for constructing affordable units on their development sites, such as paying a fee in lieu of construction or constructing the affordable units on a nearby site.

The plan stresses that policymakers must ensure housing remains accessible to low-income renters as the housing supply increases. To achieve this, the toolbox suggests that jurisdictions build on the state’s fair housing and tenant protection laws. Maryland law already prohibits discrimination based on source of income, such as housing choice vouchers, and local jurisdictions can expand antidiscrimination laws, for example, to prohibit landlords from rejecting applicants based on their rental or credit history. Other recommendations are intended to increase housing stability. Localities could adopt regulations requiring longer notice periods for rent increases or lease terminations to allow tenants adequate time to counter their landlords’ proposed measures or seek other housing. Maryland hopes these toolbox actions and recommendations will ensure housing equity as housing construction seeks to meet market demands.

Click here to access the plan and information about how it addresses regulatory barriers. Find more plans, regulations, and research that state and local governments can use to reduce impediments to affordable housing on HUD User's Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse.

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