The President & CEO's Blog

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

Action in Montgomery (AIM)

Last Thursday, hundreds of faith based community residents attended a rally at Bethel World Outreach Church in Olney.  The purpose of this meeting was to secure commitments from Montgomery County government officials for equity in education, immigration, and affordable housing.  I was impressed by the great energy in the room and the wonderful music provided by the Bethel World Outreach Choir.

Bethel World Outreach Choir

In attendance was Marc Elrich, County Executive, and County Councilmembers Evan Glass, Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, Sidney Katz and Gabe Albornoz.

Bishop Darlingston Johnson, Pastor of Bethel World Outreach Church welcomed everyone to the church followed by an opening prayer by Pastor Haywood Robinson III, Peoples Community Baptist Church.

There were several questions for elected officials in attendance:


  1. Will you (county officials) commit to expand the Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary program, including parent leadership training, to at least two additional schools this year? All confirmed their support for education.
  2. Will you commit to funding school construction for South Lake and Burnt Mils in the FY 2020 Capital Budget? All confirmed their support for more school funding.
Councilmember Katz
Councilmember Albornoz







Councilmember Glass


  1. Will you sustain or increase the $370,000 in grants to fund legal services for residents at-risk of deportation or in deportation proceedings during FY 2020? The County Executive plans to increase grant funding in the FY 2020 budget and councilmembers voiced their support.
  2. In the next two weeks, will you send AIM a list of 5 partners with whom we can jointly meet to ask for additional funding? All confirmed their support.
Councilmember Jawando
Councilmember Riemer







Affordable Housing

  1. County Executive Elrich has committed to write a letter to the WMATA Board (Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Area), asking them to halt the sale or lease of WMATA land in Montgomery County until they meet with AIM and our elected officials to prioritize affordable housing on this land. All agreed to support this strategy.
  2. County Executive Elrich, we are asking you tonight to use your power to identify 3-5 parcels of public land for affordable housing development in the next 3 months, and to start the process of developing them by the end of the calendar year. County Executive Elrich said he thinks he could identify 3-5 parcels of land for affordable housing development.
County Executive Elrich

This session was followed by a Call to Action by Pastor Charles Tapp, Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church

The closing prayer was led by Pastor Chris Posch, St. Camillus Catholic Church.

For more information about AIM click here

AmeriCorps Week

Do you know anyone who served as a member of AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps members play a vital role in contributing to the mission of creating affordable housing and responding to disaster relief in many parts of the U.S.  Many members volunteer on Habitat construction sites and in Habitat offices for one to two years, then go on to continue their education or are hired by nonprofit or for profit corporations.


AmeriCorps is a voluntary civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors engaging adults in public service work with a goal of “helping others and meeting the critical needs in the community.”

The AmeriCorps program is often seen as a domestic Peace Corps. It employs more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year for a small stipend.  Habitat affiliates alone have hosted more than 10,600 members to date that have provided more than 17 million hours of service, engaged 3.9 million volunteers, and served 115,500 families.  These members play a critical role in increasing the capacity of non-profits to serve more families across the country.


We celebrate and thank those who have served with our affiliate over the years.


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

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