Baltimore County, MD Rethinks Affordable Housing

My daughter and her family live in Baltimore County, MD and loves everything about it but she recently told me that home prices are climbing out of reach for many who work in the City of Baltimore and are being forced to travel 50 miles and further for housing.

On Thursday, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski introduced legislation in the county council that would make affordable housing more attainable in the county.

The proposals include funding the development of more affordable housing, defining legally what is considered a vacant home, and allowing more leeway in who can live in an accessory apartment at a home. Those apartments are sometimes called ‘mother-in-law suites’.

Another proposal would allow developers to build more townhouses by making them smaller. They could be 16 feet wide, rather than the current minimum of 20 feet.

16’ wide townhouses would open the doors to modular factories to begin shipping their widest modules into the county. This could be another win for those townhouse and multifamily modular factories located along the East Coast.

Olszewski said the deal with developers is that while they would get the smaller townhouses they wanted, in exchange they would have to guarantee they are creating affordable housing which is what going with modular construction would give them.

In Baltimore County, those accessory apartments or ‘mother-in-law suites’ can only legally be occupied by immediate family members. That would be loosened up under this legislation to include anyone related by blood, adoption or marriage.

It’s not unusual for local governments to want to do something to help people find affordable housing. The difference here is Baltimore County is actually proposing some real changes.

Gary Fleisher, Contributing Editor

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Gary Fleisher

Gary Fleisher, “The Mod Coach”, has been entrenched in the offsite construction industry for most of his life. Having started his career in the lumber industry, Gary spent decades working with manufactured and modular home producers and homebuilders. For the past 15 years his blog and LinkedIn postings have introduced thousands to the benefits of factory-built construction and have served as a forum for industry professionals to share insights and perspectives. Gary lives in Hagerstown, MD with his wife, Peg.

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