Everyone in Montgomery should be able to find safe, healthy housing that they can afford – whether they are buying or renting their home. And our county should not be segregated by race and class. Right now only some of us live in places with good transportation and lots of green space and schools with lots of extra resources, and there are many places in the county where poor and working class people, immigrants, and people of color are implicitly or explicitly told they “don’t belong.”
To achieve housing for all in Montgomery County, we need:
Except in Takoma Park, rent increases in the County are not governed by any law – just a set of voluntary regulations. Renters can face enormous rent increases with no way to protest, and rent increases can differ from unit to unit without any clear reason. This leads to housing discrimination and housing insecurity, especially for low-income tenants, tenants of color, and other tenants who face housing barriers. Montgomery County needs rent stabilization laws that keep rental housing affordable, predictable, and fair for all tenants.
Renter households make up 33% of all households in the county, and represent a diverse range of county residents in age, race & ethnicity, geography, and income. Keeping renters in our County is important for the stability and prosperity of all our communities, so it’s important for all of us to make sure that renters can stay in their homes. Montgomery County needs a just cause eviction law: a law that requires landlords to renew a lease with only small changes unless there is a good, legal reason not to. Combined with rent stabilization, just cause eviction will make housing more secure for hundreds of thousands of County residents.
The minimum affordable housing requirement for developers in the County needs to increase from 12.5% to 15% of the units they build for sale or rental. We also need to prioritize support for developments that have plenty of family-sized units, with three or more bedrooms. We need to be sure that our public investments in housing development across the county are truly meeting the needs of all residents, not just those with higher incomes or more wealth.
No resident should be discriminated against or have their housing choices restricted due to their race or ethnicity, gender identity or sexuality, national origin or language, family status, disability, income, or past incarceration status. A 2015 study on barriers to housing choice indicates a strong need for addressing housing discrimination in the County as well as producing and preserving affordable housing. We need strong enforcement of fair housing laws around source of income, race & national origin, disability, and family status. We also need to put more attention and resources toward addressing the specific housing barriers faced by LGBTQ community members and returning citizens.
The County needs to provide adequate funding for a housing inspection and code enforcement team that takes resident concerns seriously, promptly responds to complaints, and makes regular visits to inspect all rental properties in the County. The Department of Housing and Community Affairs also needs to take the initiative to work with resident and community organizers and make sure that tenants’ rights and concerns are being respected.