Fact Sheet: Attainable Housing – living up to our country’s housing values (Montgomery County)

On June 13, 2024, the Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously approved the Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative report. The report recommends allowing more types of housing—like duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses—in neighborhoods that for decades have only allowed single-family detached homes. It also recommends allowing small apartment buildings in certain areas along major transit corridors. The County Council received a briefing on the report on June 24, and will review the recommendations and consider introducing legislation this Fall to implement the zoning changes.

Attainable housing means better housing options for more people.

Attainable housing means building a wider variety of housing types that meet the needs of people of diverse ages, incomes, and household sizes. This includes small-scale or “missing middle” homes like duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes, as well as medium-scale options like cottage courts or small apartment buildings, like those found in older neighborhoods in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. 

These options tend to be smaller and more affordable than a single-family detached home—which today is the only housing option in many Montgomery County neighborhoods.

Attainable housing realigns our land use choices with our values of inclusivity and equity.

Our zoning status quo is working against our county’s goals of housing affordability and racial and economic inclusion—even in neighborhoods that were once considered affordable. 

Housing prices have been consistently rising faster than inflation in Montgomery County since the mid-1990s—meaning that the average home sold today is affordable to an ever-smaller and more affluent set of households.

Inflexible zoning in many neighborhoods means that even as our county’s needs have changed over the decades, options that exacerbate our housing affordability crisis—like tearing down a modestly-priced home to build a larger and more expensive home—are automatically permitted, while attainable housing options that support greater inclusion and more affordable housing are forbidden.

What zoning changes does the Attainable Housing Strategies Report recommend?

In short, the Attainable Housing Strategies report recommends:

  • Allowing duplexes by-right in the R-40, R-60, R-90, and R-200 zones.
  • Allowing triplexes by-right in the R-40, R-60, and R-90 zones, and in the R-200 zone near transit.
  • Allowing quadplexes by-right near transit in R-40, R-60, R-90 zones, and R-200 zones.
  • Optional process for development of affordably-priced medium-scale housing like small apartment buildings on certain sites within 500 feet of major transit corridors identified by the Thrive 2050 general plan.
  • Additional recommendations to support affordability and equity, including creating a new subdivision type to support attainable housing as a pathway to homeownership.

How can I learn more?

There are many ways you can learn more about the details of the Attainable Housing Strategies Report, and how these recommended changes would affect different neighborhoods and support greater affordability and inclusivity!

  • Explore the complete Attainable Housing report for details and lots of great info!
  • Check out the Attainable Housing Strategies landing page, with short printable explainers and other great resources! 
  • Sign up for Montgomery for All updates for attainable housing news and opportunities
  • to take action!