On Oct. 29, a resolution was introduced before the Montgomery County Council that supports a region-wide goal of producing 75,000 more housing units than currently forecast. Included in this number is an additional 10,000 units in Montgomery County.
The resolution is the latest in a series of progressively more substantive moves by jurisdictions in the D.C. Metropolitan area to quantify the magnitude of its housing shortage and identify ways to close the gap. The analysis and proposed actions are reported in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ (MWCOG) publication, The Future of Housing in Greater Washington.
“The region’s current unmet housing needs undercut its appeal to new companies and talent, strain the transportation system and impact the environment and quality of life for residents,” according to the report. “The solution is for housing to be preserved and created at a higher rate than has been achieved in the recent past.”
Over the past year, the MWCOG put organizational focus on housing price and supply. Using a widely accepted metric for balancing employment and household growth their analysis determined the D.C. region needs to increase supply by at least 75,000 additional households beyond the 245,000 units already planned by 2030. It would be 115,000 more if the outlook is extended to 2045.
The current housing shortfall has created a daily dynamic where more than 325,000 workers commute to jobs in the region from communities located outside of the metro area. Models show these types of trips increasing 24 percent by 2045.
Acting on the transportation board’s consensus that housing and jobs must be brought closer together, a goal was set to locate 75 percent of these additional units within 141 designated Activity Centers or near the region’s existing 297 high-capacity transit centers. This strategy is anticipated to reduce traffic congestion by 20 percent.
In order to accommodate a range of incomes and the type of household growth anticipated, 75 percent of the additional new units are affordable to low- and middle-income households at a cost range of $0-$2,499 per month.
The report contains confirmation that the member jurisdictions have the capacity to meet the goals, although it may require rezoning and the removal of other barriers. Other tactical recommendations are preservation of existing affordable housing, permitting accessory dwelling units, transit-oriented development and inclusionary zoning.
The MWCOG board adopted the regional housing targets at its September 2019 meeting. The next round of activity is expected to be in the member jurisdictions as they endorse the framework and accept their allocation share of additional household growth.