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The President & CEO's Blog

From Jeff Dee, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland, Inc.

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Affordable Housing

Support Accessory Apartments (ADUs)

I testified at a public hearing on February 26th in support of Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 that loosens the requirements for increasing the production of ADUs in Montgomery County.

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Our county has large areas of single family detached zones with homes that are unaffordable to many.  Oftentimes, restrictive zoning policies lead to segregated neighborhoods and schools.  We believe that broadening ADU requirements is one small step to encourage more socio-economically integrated communities and help reduce the structural segregation in the county.

Like much of the United States, Montgomery County is facing a housing crisis. Finding healthy and affordable housing near jobs and transit is extremely difficult for many.

It is our belief that Habitat is in a unique position to help solve the affordable housing crisis by building accessory apartments, also known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). ADUs are separate apartments either within, attached to, or detached from a main unit. Think English basements, garage apartments, and small backyard cottages.

Habitat strongly supports Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 which was recently introduced to the Montgomery County Council. This ZTA would make it easier for homeowners to build ADUs should they choose to do so.

Please join Habitat for Humanity in supporting ZTA 19-01 and ADUs by signing this form to your Council Member.

Habitat’s repair and weatherization program has helped hundreds of owner-occupied homeowners improve their quality of life and help reduce energy bills. Many of these homeowners could benefit from the extra income stream that an ADU would provide. Extra income would allow the homeowner to remain in their home and their neighborhood while providing funds to help maintain the property.

ADUs provide homeowners with more flexibility in how they utilize their own property as their family needs change. ADUs provide:

  • More affordable yet separate housing for returning adult children or grandchildren
  • More affordable yet separate housing for aging parents or grandparents
  • More affordable yet separate housing for adults with disabilities
  • More affordable yet separate housing for lower income families in need of homes
  • Extra income for those who’ve lost a job or are on fixed income
  • An opportunity for young families and millennials to purchase homes because of the additional income source

Moreover, ADUs provide many environmental, social and economic benefits to our community. ADUs have a relatively small environmental impact and are typically built around public transit. The new bill maintains lot coverage restrictions, limiting the size of any addition or backyard cottage so as to protect storm water management. ADUs also encourage multigenerational housing and socio-economically integrated communities.

Communities across the US and the World are embracing ADUs as an innovative and flexible way to increase housing stock while allowing homeowners to best utilize their own homes.

Zoning Text Amendment 19-01 would make it easier for homeowners to build ADUs in a thoughtful manner by:

  • Allowing detached ADUs on lots less than 1 acre but still maintaining current lot coverage standards
  • Allowing ADUs to be built with new homes or in homes newer than 5 years
  • Eliminating minimum distance restrictions between ADUs
  • Requiring 2 off-street parking spaces rather than 3
  • Providing a waiver process on off-street parking spaces that allows for feedback from neighbors
  • Keeping the owner occupancy requirement
  • Keeping the restriction that no more than 2 unrelated adults can reside in the ADU
  • Permitting only one ADU per property and disallowing any other rentals on property if an ADU is present
  • Maintaining ban on short term rentals (AirBnB) for ADUs

Let the County Council know you support these changes to the ADU law. 

Want more information? Check out some of the resources below.

Fact sheet by At-Large County Councilmember Hans Riemer

Read this Greater Greater Washington post by Tracy Loh

Blog post from AARP on innovative & flexible options to Age in Place

Don’t want to fill out our form? You can email the council directly at County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Thank you for your support and consideration.

Women Build Launch Party

Last Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of attending the Women Build Launch Party hosted by Mimi Kress in the beautiful showroom of Sandy Spring Builders.  Nearly 100 women (and a few men) joined together to celebrate the launch of our annual campaign to build affordable homes in our community.

Since 1991, Women Build volunteers from all walks of life have come together to build stronger, safer communities.

Though our neighborhoods are comprised largely of women and children, they are also the population most likely to be affected by poor living conditions.  Our Women Build teams provide the opportunity for women to take a proactive step in serving their communities and help families achieve affordable home ownership.

Women Build opportunities are available for any woman who wants to learn how to build and construct a home.  No experience is necessary.  Volunteers work under the guidance of construction professionals, and also alongside other volunteers and future Habitat homeowners.

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Our goal this year is to recruit 36 teams (10 women on a team) and raise $200,000.  Currently, 46 teams are registered, so we are confident we will achieve our goal.  See the Women Build Flyer here  if you would like more information on forming a team or joining an existing team, or being a corporate sponsor.

Thank you to our corporate and faith sponsors for this year’s Women Build!

Women Build Community Sponsors

Community Sponsors

Women Build Sponsors

Sponsors

 

Launch Party Event Sponsors

Event Sponsors

Habitat on the Hill

I recently joined hundreds of Habitat representatives throughout the United States in Washington, DC to advocate for resources for affordable home production.  Our three day conference included visits to offices of Senators Chris Van Hollen and Benjamin Cardin, as well as, Representatives Jamie Raskin, Anthony Brown, and David Throne.

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Communities in our region are facing shortages of safe, decent and affordable homes.  More than 19 million US households spend more than 50% of their income on housing, 30% is considered affordable.  Federal housing programs provide crucial resources to help local housing providers meet these challenges.  For example, the HOME program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), helps providers build, repair or rehabilitate affordable owner-occupied or rental housing, while also supporting other housing activities.  HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), helps nonprofit organizations that use the self-help model acquire land, purchase foreclosed or abandoned properties, and develop the infrastructure needed to build affordable homes for first-time, lower-income homeowners.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Section 502 Direct program provides fixed-rate, low-interest loans to help low- and very-low income families purchase or rehabilitate homes in rural areas.

See our Federal  Asks Here

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While crucial, federal investments in affordable housing are failing to keep up with local needs.  To supplement static or declining federal housing resources, local and state organizations are engaging in broad advocacy initiatives to persuade local and state governments to raise significant new housing resources of their own.  These local and state funds are being used for a wide range of housing activities, tailored to local priorities. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved.

See our Local Advocacy Platform Here

2018: Year in Review

We are excited to announce that 2018 was a record year for HFHMM. Last year we finished 78 projects and served more than 100 residents!

  • 4 Rehabilitations of vacant, distressed, properties
  • 26 Critical Home Repairs, including 20 HVAC replacements
  • 28 Weatherizations

In 2018, HFHMM invested more than $1.4M in our community and provided more than $1M in 0% interest mortgages to income qualified families.

We were also able to launch an Aging in Place program that connects seniors with Habitat, an Occupational Therapist, and a Registered Nurse to help them successfully stay in their homes.  Moreover, we were selected as an administrator of the Montgomery County Homeowner Energy Efficiency Program designed to help low-income homeowners reduce their energy bills.

The incredible Women Build supporters continued to exceed our expectations and sent 32 teams of 10 women to help finish two of our rehab homes and collectively they raised $176,000 towards our mission.

We are grateful to the nearly 4,500 volunteers who contribute to the success of our mission, and to our board of directors for providing great governance and support. In 2018, these volunteers donated more than 32,000 hours of serving, helping save the organization more than $770,000 in labor costs.

As we enter into our 37th year in business, we are very excited about the opportunity to serve more residents with affordable workforce housing, as well as, repairs and weatherization of owner-occupied homes mostly for older adults and veterans.  Stay tuned to for posts about the many exciting plans for 2019.

To learn more about our last fiscal year, click here to read our FY18 annual report.

Habitat on the Hill, Washington, D.C. – February 2015

Our affiliate participated on Habitat on the Hill last week to advance our vision of a world in which everyone has a decent place to live.  Over 1.6 billion people do not have a safe and secure place to call home.  To meet this need, Habitat seeks to build community, sector and societal impact through a variety of housing solutions including: new home construction, repairs and weatherization of owner-occupied homes, responding to natural disasters and assisting with recovery, facilitating housing microfinance loans and by making health related investments in clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

 

In fiscal year 2014, Habitat served over 1.6 million people in over 70 countries through home construction, repair and other direct interventions.  An additional 1.6 million people were helped indirectly through training, financial management and advocacy efforts.

 

The Habitat for Humanity model lifts entire communities.  The success of the Habitat ownership model depends not only on the ability of our partner families to repay their mortgages, but also on ongoing demand for affordable homeownership in their neighborhoods.

 

We need the support of the local, state, and federal government to continue to provide housing solutions for the lower-income workforce residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

 

While on the Hill, we visited the legislative offices of Representatives Van Hollen, Hoyer, Sarbanes, Edwards, and Delaney, as well as, Senator’s Cardin and Mikulski.

 

Please join us by contacting your local representative and encouraging them to support these legislative priorities.  By doing so, you will participate in Habitat’s vision, and make a difference in someone’s life.

 

Our legislative priorities:

Legislative Asks 2015

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