All About Thrive #3: A home for everyone, and new poll finds Thrive is popular

Thrive is popular! A new poll shows that Thrive has a majority of support from likely Democratic voters in Montgomery County, with the strongest support from Black and African American residents, people under 45, and renters. A total of 55% of survey respondents were in support, with only 21% opposed. Read more about the poll.

Today we’re covering what Thrive 2050 says about housing, with an emphasis on affordable housing. This is the third installment in our “All About Thrive” email series. Read past installments. We’re also thrilled to announce our next webinar — a deep dive on Diverse Neighborhoods on July 27th. We’ll talk about the latest research, why it matters to you, and how these best practices relate to Thrive. Be sure to register!

What does Thrive say about housing?

We’ve previously talked about how Thrive says we should use land more sustainably by focusing growth around activity centers and along major transportation corridors. Thrive’s housing chapter is titled “Housing for All: More of Everything,” and approaches housing will a “both/and” mindset, rather than “either/or.”

Thrive shows the data about how Montgomery County hasn’t built enough housing, especially in job-rich locations, to keep up with high demand, leading to higher housing costs. This has worsened inequality and made it harder for people to live near where they work, shop, and go to school.

Montgomery County population growth and building permits, 1980-2020

The plan proposes a range of policies to encourage the production of more housing to better match supply with demand. However, contrary to a popular belief, Thrive’s main focus is not duplexes and triplexes in single-family neighborhoods! (Although, we’ll talk about that more in our next installment.) Thrive says residential density should be prioritized along major corridors, public land, and underutilized commercial properties.

How about affordable housing?

Thrive recognizes that all housing needs are not going to be met by the housing market, especially not for the poorest, people who are disabled, and seniors. Below are some direct quotes, but you can read all of the recommendations for yourself.

As part of the commitment to the Housing First approach, develop strategies to build deeply affordable housing and provide permanent supportive housing

Consider features of other housing models such as social housing that, in addition to providing long-term affordability for low and moderate-income households, emphasizes architectural quality, environmental performance, and social stability

Integrate people with disabilities, people transitioning from homelessness, and older adults into housing with appropriate affordability, amenities and services sized and designed to accommodate their households

Develop targeted strategies to minimize gentrification and displacement while promoting integration and avoiding the concentration of poverty

Refine regulatory tools and financial and other incentives with the goal of avoiding a net loss of market-rate and income-restricted affordable housing stock without erecting disincentives for the construction of additional units

A general plan is just that — very general and just a plan. These policies would all have to be implemented and fleshed out over time, and backed by significant investments. Thrive lays the groundwork for that future.

What does this mean for me?

If Thrive’s “Housing for All” vision were fully implemented, it would mean that you are able to find a healthy, comfortable home in the neighborhood of your choice, without breaking the bank. There would be abundant housing opportunities for a variety of household sizes, family make-ups, and incomes.

More people would be able to buy a home and no one would be priced out of their current home — meaning your family members, friends, and adult children would be able to live nearby. Housing fits you and your loved ones needs, whether you’re young or old, just starting out or a long time resident, able-bodied or in need of assistance.

What can be improved?

Although Thrive’s housing chapter is strong, we think it can be even stronger. CSG has recommended specific language around ensuring that income-restricted is equitable distributed around the county, improving the quality and safety of housing, tenants’ rights, and fair housing. You can see our full comments.

Upcoming Events

  • Montgomery for All Happy Hour in Bethesda — Thursday July 14, 6:00-8:00 PM 
    • Join us at the Bethesda Streetery on Norfolk Avenue, between St. Elmo Avenue and Cordell Avenue, for a happy hour! There are many restaurants where people can get food and drinks, and then come sit at the streetery. The event will feature remarks from Greater Bethesda blogger and Montgomery for All member Ron Basumallik.
  • All About Thrive: Diverse Neighborhoods — Wednesday, July 27, 7:00-8:30 PM
    • Join us to learn about how the right policies and investments can allow neighborhoods to grow in a way that supports racial and economic diversity. Panelists include Dr. Tracy Hadden Loh, Brookings Institution; Dr. Ben Kraft, Montgomery Planning; and LaToya Thomas, Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers. Register here!
  • Montgomery for All August Meeting: How to Talk About Smart Growth — Thursday, August 18, 7:00-8:15 PM
    • Learn how to talk about smart growth to those who may not be familiar and those who might be open to joining our cause for more affordable, sustainable, and inclusive neighborhoods. Register here!

Image from Dan Reed, Montgomery Planning, Better Housing Coalition