The Montgomery County Council today unanimously passed a bill that will make officials assess whether affordable housing can be added to new capital projects such as libraries or fire stations.
The bill, proposed last year by Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac), is meant to encourage one of the wealthiest counties in the country to provide more affordable housing on its own land.
Berliner, when asked about the lack of affordable housing for young people at a town hall meeting last week, said he envisions the assessment will lead to convenient pairings of new library facilities with three or four floors of affordable housing for seniors.
“We have wonderful libraries, tucked away in places far from residents,” Berliner said. “We need a lot of senior affordable housing, not just housing for young people. It’s a hard place to live when you’re on retirement. Seniors and libraries are such an obviously good fit.”
“The irony of course is our community is obviously well-to-d0. It makes it harder to do affordable housing,” Berliner said last week. “There is no silver bullett. That’s not going to dramatically change the equation.”
The measure was amended to allow routine maintenance projects of existing county buildings to go through without the affordable housing assessment. The Council will determine whether a county executive-proposed project is worthy of an exemption. The county executive will do the same of Council-proposed projects seeking exemptions.