Budget Part 2: Taking action on affordable housing

Dear Resident:

Montgomery County needs more affordable housing! It is becoming extraordinarily difficult for young workers and families to get a foothold here, or for retirees to stay here.

I Wanted to Stay Here,” was the title of a recent article about affordable housing that was tough to read. To help tackle this crisis, we need more action on affordable housing. Our regional housing plan calls for us to double our annual housing production to alleviate a serious housing shortage.

That is why I am so pleased that the County’s budget for next year makes some enormous strides on housing. In the second part of this series on next year’s budget–the first was on education and workforce–we take a closer look at record funding for affordable housing.

Addressing the high cost of housing and getting our economy rolling again have been my top priorities since taking over as Chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee. I am greatful that my colleagues on the Committee–Councilmembers Will Jawando and Andrew Friedson–have been excellent partners as we have tackled these tough issues.

Good news: the Council approved a proposal I made with support from my colleagues to add $50 million to an affordable housing construction loan fund for the Housing Opportunities Commission, taking to $100 million a revolving loan fund for their innovative housing model.

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What is Thrive 2050?

Dear Resident:

By now you may have seen email traffic on your local listserv about Thrive Montgomery 2050. Perhaps some of it is alarming.

I’d like to provide some context and clarification for your consideration. I support moving forward with Thrive because I believe we need to be more creative and think differently about housing.

So, what is Thrive anyway?

Thrive is a guide for our community planning process. It is a policy document that is at the “vision and strategy” level.

You’re already living with the policy vision embodied in Thrive. That’s because what Thrive does is update a 1950s “general plan” with the modern planning principles that we have been using for years now.

If you like the changes in development that we are making on Rockville Pike — you can see them in action at Pike & Rose — then you’re valuing the kinds of ideas that Thrive articulates.

So while broadly Thrive is already in use, there are a few important shifts that Thrive also calls for. They don’t happen directly as a result of Thrive, but Planners and the Council will have guidance to consider them in the future.

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Why the Council voted to override the veto of the Metro smart growth plan

Dear resident:

On Tuesday, the County Council voted to override County Executive Elrich’s veto of the “More Housing At Metro” Act, a smart growth plan adopted by the Council a week earlier.

Read the op-ed I wrote about it in the Washington Post

Our County’s 9 Metro station properties could be delivering enormous benefits to the County — including substantial tax revenues — but instead they are a drag. From a real estate perspective, some are nearly “brownfields” due to the overwhelming expense of building above a station.

The Council has a plan to break the status quo and generate some economic momentum. The legislation, vetoed by the County Executive, would provide a highly targeted property tax abatement exclusively for high rise construction on these 9 Metro station properties.

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What we accomplished in 2019

Dear resident,

Following is a detailed report about my work this past year as your Councilmember. This list is progress that we made together.

Progressive leadership requires making tough decisions and getting the basics right. You can’t reach high from a wobbly foundation.

That’s why I focus every day on making the kinds of forward thinking changes that we need to position Montgomery County for future success and prosperity.

I’m eager to hear from you! Please share your thoughts by email to councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov. Keep reading >>

Community conversation on Vienna, Austria’s social housing model

One of my friends and a giant in Montgomery County housing advocacy, Pamela Lindstrom, asked me to organize a policy forum on Vienna’s social housing model. That conversation led to the event we hosted with the Sierra Club on September. Much of the work to organize the event was conducted by Council staff member Linda McMillan. I am grateful to them both for their support!

present a community conversation on

Vienna, Austria’s Smart City Strategies for Housing, Energy, and Mobility

SEPTEMBER 14, 2019

Council Office Building
3rd Floor Hearing Room
100 Maryland Ave
Rockville, MD 20850

A special thanks to Pam Lindstrom for helping organize this community conversation.

Presenters include:

  • Dr. Kurt Sturzenbecher, Member of the Vienna City Council
  • Mrs. Karin Ramser, Director, Vienna Housing Agency Wiener Wohnen
  • Ms. Katharina Bayer, Architect
  • Mag. Josef Cser, Director of Wohnservice Wien

Followed by a Q&A with the audience and representatives of County agencies, and remarks from Shruti Bhatnagar, Chair, Sierra Club Montgomery County, MD

Montgomery County has partnered with the University of Maryland and the Embassy of Austria to host an exhibition, provide presentations, and a community discussion on Vienna’s approach to social housing, energy, and mobility. Close to 60 percent of Vienna’s 1.8 million inhabitants live in government-subsidized housing that is rented to them by the municipality or nonprofit housing associations.

Watch the video of the event

Questions? Contact Councilmember Hans Riemer’s office
at 240.777.7964 or Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov