For a number of months the County Council has been examining two competing legislative proposals to address the issue of affordable housing and future development in downtown Columbia. One proposal has been introduced by County Executive Allan Kittleman The County Executive’s proposal also includes legislation authorizing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) which calls for using some of the tax revenue generated by new development to finance infrastructure needs such as new roads. The Administration’s proposal was based on joint recommendations made by various groups including the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation (CDCH). HCAR met with and presented testimony to the CDCH.
The other proposal has been introduced by County Council Member Jen Terrasa. The legislation states that at least 15 percent of the units in any future residential development be affordable housing. The intent of the legislation is to ensure that when conventional units are built that affordable units are built as well.
Some of the comparisons between the two plans include the following:
- Administration’s plan will bring 6400 new housing units.
- Council Member Terrasa’s plan calls for 5500 new units.
- Administration’s proposal calls for approximately 900 affordable units for occupants making between 30 – 80% of area medium income. The units have to remain affordable for at least 40 years.
- Councilwoman Terrasa's plan calls for upwards of 700 affordable units for those earning between 40 – 80% of area medium income. The units have to remain permanently affordable.
The County Council is expected to vote on these pieces of legislation on Nov. 7, 2016.
The House Environment and Transportation Subcommittee on Housing and Real Property met in early September to discuss many problems associated with foreclosures in Maryland. MAR presented information along with a number of other groups. Some of MAR’s recommendations included: expanded access to the foreclosure registry database; expedited foreclosure process for vacant and abandoned property; identifying best practices for processing foreclosures through the different county courts; and mandatory recording of deeds within 30 days of ratification of a foreclosure sale.
Although there was disagreement among the parties testifying on many issues, there was more consensus on expediting foreclosure for abandoned and vacant property -- with some discussion regarding on how to define "abandoned and vacant." Legislation may be introduced to address these issues when the General Assembly convenes in January, 2017.
On September 27, 2016, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a proposed rule concerning single-family condominium project approval. This rule came about when H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act” was signed into law. The proposed changes include:
- FHA is asking for comment on an acceptable minimum percentage for owner-occupied condominiums between 25 and 75 percent.
- FHA is asking for comment on an acceptable minimum percentage for commercial/non-residential space limits between 25 and 60 percent.
- FHA proposes to allow single-unit, or spot, loan approval in non-FHA approved condominiums if the unit meets certain requirements.
- FHA proposes to extend the re-certification approval period for a project from 2 to 3 years and will allow for updating previous information rather than submitting an entire new application.
Comments on the proposed rule are due to HUD by November 27, 2016.