The President & CEO's Blog

From John Paukstis, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland, Inc.

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.


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

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



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.


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


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

Habitat Honors Veterans

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Richard at his home of 28 years.  Richard served in the US Army for 30 years.  Richard was trained as a combat medic and achieved the highest rank of Sargent First Class, or senior non-commissioned officer.  He also received the Meritorious Service Medal presented to members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves for outstanding achievement or service to the United States.  Richard enjoyed interacting with military families and “liked to help them ease into military life.”

In addition to his long military career, Richard was educated in Psychology, studied at Howard University, was trained as a Hypnotherapist and is currently certified to administer Reflexology.  There is a spiritual quality to Richard’s desire to help people deal with the stresses of everyday life.

Originally from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Richard is a huge Philadelphia Eagles football fan and was “thrilled beyond belief” when they won the Super Bowl last year.

Richard’s home is comfortable and welcoming, but there were several repairs that needed to be done and Habitat responded by matching a priority list of critical repairs with available funding.

Funding from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) covered weatherization services including CO Monitors, Insulation, and a programmable thermostat.  Habitat was able to secure help from the Home Depot Foundation RepairCorps program for veterans that provided funding to replace the roof, a rear door,  the tile floor in the kitchen, a bathroom window, and to make repairs to walls.

Habitat was honored to be able to make a difference in the life of someone who served his country with distinction.

Thank you for your service Richard!

For more information about Habitat’s Repair & Weatherization Program, contact Rebecca Arce, Repair Client Coordinator at or 301-990-0014×19.

14th Annual Golf Tournament

Now that the Super Bowl is behind us, we are looking forward to warmer weather, being outdoors, and our 14th annual golf tournament on Friday, May 31st at Whiskey Creek CC.  Click here for sponsorship flyer.

Our golf event is great fun and provides significant funding for our mission to build affordable housing for working families. Over the last 13 years, the golf tournament has raised over $1.3 million for our work!

We are absolutely thrilled with the success of this tournament over the years and recognize the support from our sponsors, volunteers and friends whose generosity makes possible our efforts to create affordable and energy efficient housing in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

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