Study Shows Drop in Affordable Rentals

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. — St. Mary’s County residents who may not be able to afford to purchase their own single-family homes are also facing a declining number of rental properties that fit their income levels, a study released on January 26 revealed.

The report completed last year by the Real Property Research Group based in Columbia and just released by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development stated that in 2000 households that made about 60 percent of the county’s average median income of about $76,000 could afford about two-thirds of the rental units available — by 2008 those same families with the same income levels could only afford to 52 percent of rentals.

“In response to this decreasing proportion of affordable units, more renters are paying a greater share of their income towards rent,” the study reads. “The share of St. Mary’s County renters paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent increased from 35 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in the 2006-2008 period.”

Moreover, the study noted that renters who were paying more than 50 percent of their income to stay in rental housing during the same period of time increased from 15 percent to 20 percent.

The study also estimates that in the Leonardtown area and in Lexington Park, the two major submarkets for rental housing, there will be unmet demand in the amount of 400 rental units in the former and 370 units in the latter within three to five years.

Through 2016 the shortage in the Leonardtown area and in the northern portion of the county is projected to increase to 658 units, but the demand in Lexington Park is set to decrease to 176 units.

Projects planned in Lexington Park that would answer some of the demand accounted for the decreased number, the report stated.

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