Howard County Considers Downtown Columbia Affordable Housing Proposals

The Howard County Department of Planning is reviewing a package of proposals to increase affordable housing in downtown Columbia.

Models have been proposed by the County Executive Allan Kittleman and Councilwoman Jen Terrasa.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The county’s current model — which allows Howard Hughes to pay a fee in lieu of building affordable units in Columbia — has not accomplished the county’s goal of bringing affordable housing to downtown, according to parties involved in negotiations.

In its plan, the administration has proposed 10 percent of all downtown housing units should be affordable while increasing density by exempting affordable housing units from the 5,500-unit cap for housing allowed under the county’s general plan. The proposal requires developers to make a one-time payment into a dedicated trust fund for affordable housing only for for-sale units instead of all residential units.

“[The plan] really does provide the assurance that we will have affordable housing,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.

Terrasa’s competing vision mirrors the downtown housing corporation’s first set of recommendations, which were later drastically revised to adhere to a proposal by Howard Hughes,

Her plan sets a minimum of 15 percent affordable housing ranging from 40 to 80 percent of the county’s median income. Terrasa said the developer’s agreement relieves Howard Hughes of required payments into a housing fund for affordable housing while creating affordable housing tied with a dramatic increase in density — without public facilities to match any increases.

“We are here to set public policy, not to make a deal with Howard Hughes,” Terrasa said. “It’s the way we do it throughout the county.”

The proposals will be presented for public discussion on April 28. The package chosen by the planning board will then be considered by the County Council.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.