In the wake of record foreclosures and still unaffordable home prices, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland (PRISCM) released a new report calling on the future County Executive to address residents’ housing needs. After examining how well Prince George’s County’s housing programs meet the housing needs of residents, the study found that 46 percent – some 137,000 – of Prince George’s households spend more on their housing than they can afford. At the same time, the County has returned millions of dollars in federal funding that could have helped, and has no clear plan for how to assist households in the future.
The report, entitled Building Stronger Communities, provides detailed findings and recommendations aimed at transforming the County’s housing programs. It encourages the adoption of national best practices to meet the needs of Prince George’s families struggling with high housing costs, poor housing conditions and other challenges.
- Create a comprehensive strategy that identifies housing needs across a range of households (including income, size and composition), audits existing capacity to meet those housing needs, and strategizes with a diverse set of public and private sector stakeholders to make recommendations to fill gaps in capacity and resources.
- Build capacity in the Department of Housing and Community Development to accomplish the County’s housing goals by cultivating agency leadership and staff that demonstrate expertise in housing finance, effectively administering federal and state housing resources, and aggressively managing the County’s interest in development deals.
- Build capacity among small local nonprofits to help meet the County’s housing goals by establishing a mentoring program between these nonprofits and high capacity housing development organizations. These partnerships could produce County-supported demonstration projects that would improve the County’s housing stock while increasing the capacity of the smaller nonprofits.
- Improve the existing housing stock by efficiently utilizing existing resources like HOME, CDBG, and state tax credits; establishing new, locally-funded resources like a housing trust fund and an acquisition fund; and using land use and zoning tools to promote mixed-income development.
- Establish housing policies and processes that support development projects that fit the County’s larger goals, are competitively selected, meet stringent underwriting requirements and are a good investment given the time and resources required.
- Demonstrate political willingness to support and invest in a diverse range of housing options by aggressively backing DHCD to meet the county’s housing needs and soliciting participation from industry investors, policy experts and non-profit developers through advisory committees and project review panels.