Testimony: Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative 

Montgomery County Planning Board
2425 Reedie Dr, 14th Floor
Wheaton, MD 20902

Good afternoon. My name is Carrie Kisicki and I am the Montgomery Advocacy Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading organization advocating for walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the D.C. region to grow and provide opportunities for all.

I am 24 years old. I was born in 1999. Since that time, home prices have outpaced the rate of inflation and income growth in every ZIP code in Montgomery County. 

In Silver Spring, where I am a renter, if home prices had kept pace with inflation from the time I was born to 2019, the typical home would have been affordable to households earning just 61% of the county median income. In fact, in 2019, the typical home in my ZIP code was affordable only to households earning 107% or more of the county median income.

Our laws and regulations reflect our values. The choices that our county made in the past about where to allow and not allow housing types like duplexes, triplexes, and small apartment buildings have shaped the amount of housing we have been able to build—and ultimately, who can afford the price of entry to live in certain neighborhoods where these housing types are not allowed. 

We can make different choices that better reflect our values: racial and economic equity, sustainability and environmental stewardship, and a commitment to care for the needs of our present and future even when this may look different than what we have done in the past.

Legalizing attainable housing types adds another tool to our housing toolbox—helping to relieve pressure on our existing lower-cost housing options, alleviate our housing shortage, and give more people access to the opportunities that our county has to offer.

By focusing attainable housing types near transit, we can maximize household cost savings, provide better housing options for people of diverse ages and abilities, and support our county’s climate goals. When people have great transit access, they can choose to rely on their cars less—reducing their carbon emissions, and saving money on gas and other expenses. These savings on transportation can make a transit-accessible home even more affordable than a similarly-priced home in an area where transit, walking, and biking are not feasible options. 

Focusing attainable housing near transit also makes our communities more inclusive to people of diverse ages, incomes, and abilities by offering more, and more affordable, housing options for those who cannot drive or do not own a car.

As the Planning Board begins its worksessions, we ask you to pay particular attention to the following two plan recommendations.

First, we ask the Planning Board to ensure that recommendations for the Pattern Book align with the goals of both ensuring that attainable housing types contribute positively to neighborhood fabric and that they are more affordable than existing housing types. A Pattern Book will provide helpful guidance for new housing types, but if required design elements add significant cost to new homes, it will counteract the initiative’s affordability and equity goals. 

Second, we ask the Planning Board to revisit recommendations for the R-200 zone. While the majority of R-200 zoned sites are located near MARC stations or Ride On local routes, there are a small number that do not have transit access and are located in the Agricultural Reserve. We ask the Planning Board to consider including a transit proximity measure as a condition of duplex construction in the R-200 zone.

We are grateful for the time and effort of the Planning Board and Planning staff on this important initiative. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Carrie Kisicki
Montgomery County Advocacy Manager