In a five-year plan comprehensive plan submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Aug. 8, Montgomery County outlined a number of trouble areas regarding affordable housing and homelessness in an effort to provide a systemic approach to addressing needs countywide.

Zooming in

In the 1,068-page report drafted by the Montgomery County Office of Community Development, four main concerns were highlighted:
  • Insufficient fair housing education and outreach efforts
  • Demand for higher level of enforcement of fair housing laws
  • A lack of affordable housing that is accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Higher unemployment rates among persons of color causing disproportionate cost burdens
According to the report, 9% of county residents ages 18-64 live below the poverty line, but the number increases to 14% among disabled adults.
In their own words

“There is a housing gap of 12,835 rental units affordable and available for 0%-30% [area median income] and 31%-50% AMI renter households,” according to the report. “In 2022, there were 262 persons who contacted the Montgomery County Women’s Center seeking emergency housing but were turned away due to lack of capacity.”

“If HUD approves our plan, our focus is to fund public services through area nonprofits that provide emergency rent/utility services, transportation services for our seniors, job training for low-income persons, food distribution for seniors, homeless and low income persons, Home Owner Rehab program and public facility improvements like parks and community centers,” Director of Community Development Rebecca Ansley said.

“One-, two-, and three-bedroom affordable rental units are in high demand. In general, stakeholder and resident consultation identified a lack of affordable housing throughout the county and the need to prioritize affordable housing for both seniors and persons with a disability,” according to the HUD consolidated stakeholder report, which is attached to the community development report.

What’s being done

Ansley said the community development department is seeking funding to address the biggest concerns outlined in the report. If the plan is accepted by HUD, funding will be allocated to three major programs administered by the Community Development Block Grant program:
  • CDBG: $2.69 million
  • HOME investment Partnerships Program: $777,034
  • Emergency Solutions Grants: $223,763
CDBG funding would primarily be directed to assist homeowners who are at risk due to cost burdening and unemployment, while HOME funding would be geared toward revitalizing structures for home and business purposes. ESGs are used for immediate crisis funding for business owners and homeowners for immediate health hazards, such as lead paint removal.
The funding would then go to first-year priority projects, such as:
  • Street lighting
  • Sidewalk, street and alley improvements
  • New park development
  • Old park renovations and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Public transportation initiatives
Looking ahead

The submission of the plan to HUD is only the beginning phase of the overall project plan, which is set to span from 2023-27 and increase the availability of affordable housing and transportation, ultimately decreasing homelessness and unemployment rates overall. Each year, the county will request additional funding for additional projects as needed.