2020 | Government

County considers $8M fund to preserve, develop affordable housing

Focus will be on ‘areas at risk of rent escalation’

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Montgomery County might spend $8 million to help preserve and develop affordable housing.

A proposed Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund was introduced at the council’s meeting on Tuesday.

The money would address the “urgent challenge of preservation and development of affordable housing in areas at risk of rent escalation to higher market rents, including the Purple Line Corridor and other County transit corridors,” County Executive Marc Elrich wrote in a letter to Council President Tom Hucker on Dec. 4.

The county has had a “severe” affordable housing shortage and has to leverage private investment to produce dedicated affordable housing, he wrote.

A public hearing and vote on the fund are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 12.

Another $6 million is proposed for the fund next year, but the County Council is not being asked to approve that now.

The public-private purchase fund would use both county acquisition loans and predetermined private-sector lending to buy housing for moderate- and low-income residents — particularly households earning less than 50% of the area median income.

It is proposed as a revolving-loan fund, with money being repaid within 36 months.

“It will allow development of an agreement with the private sector partners as part of an acquisition funding pool, to support lending for acquisition of targeted properties to create long-term affordable housing,” Elrich wrote. “Borrowers are expected to repay loans when long-term affordability financing is arranged, revolving the funds back to support additional acquisitions.”

The $8 million appropriation would specifically be used for initial short-term financing of up to 36 months, but might also be used for intermediate term agreements, according to a staff report.

Elrich first proposed the fund in January.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.