By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson
I have written before about the need for affordable workforce housing in Southern Maryland, the fastest growing area of the state.
There are many reasons why we are in this position. Many have and are still relocating to the area because they work at some of the best military installations in the country.
Others come because Southern Maryland still is a land of pleasant living. Calvert County isnt as country as Id like it to be when I first represented it as a Member of Congress. St. Marys County isnt the sleepy, rural, primarily agricultural and watermen community it was when I was born and raised there and Charles has far more traffic lights along route 301 then when I first represented it in the House of Delegates. Still, its a great place to live and Im very proud to represent each county in the State Senate.
Southern Maryland is still surrounded by beautiful farms and historic sites as well as the Potomac and Patuxent rivers and its tributaries as well as our great Chesapeake Bay. The people are still friendly and welcoming.
With this growth, however, come disadvantages to those who are choosing to make their homes here or have lived here all or most of their lives.
The issue of affordable workforce housing affects a lot of the people we rely on to protect us such as police officers and fire and rescue workers and to teach our children from kindergarten through graduate school in college.
McMansions are starting to take the place of open space in all three Southern Maryland counties and they dont come cheap. Assessments are through the roof for existing homes. It pains me when I hear longtime constituents of mine saying they cant afford to stay in their houses because of the high assessments.
For these reasons and more, I am a primary co-sponsor of Senate Bill 710 Affordable Housing Enabling Authority for Counties and Municipalities.
This legislation, if enacted, authorizes counties and municipalities to take certain actions to support, foster or promote an affordable workforce housing program for individuals and families.
To accomplish this, Senate Bill 710 would:
1) Establish local trust funds or provide for the appropriation of funds for workforce housing.
2) Waive or modify impact building permit or development fees and charges for construction of lower-income housing.
3) Enact legislation that restricts cost and resale prices and requires development of affordable housing units as part of any subdivision in return for added density.
4) Provide land or property from the inventory of the county or municipality.
5) Support pilot programs to encourage construction of affordable workforce housing.
6) Conduct any other activity to enable the construction of affordable workforce housing.
This is an issue that is very important to me and other civic organizations such as the League of Women Voters and I will lobby hard for this issue.