Band-Aids for Affordable Housing

A new controversy involves the plan for the City of Rockville to buy the Fireside Park Apartments, a 236-unit complex in the Hungerford area. The purchase will cost $36 million, and Montgomery County is offering to chip in.  Rockville plans to subsidize apartments for households earning up to 60% of the county median income.  For a family of four, for example, subsidized apartments  would be available if their income was as much as $65,000.

A few thoughts:

– Creating public housing projects has rarely been an effective solution to achieving affordable housing.

– Homelessness is a serious problem.  The county should be looking towards long-term structural solutions, not just band-aids.  That begins with recognizing that MoCo policies are largely responsible for causing homelessness (and inflated home prices), and those policies must be changed to alleviate it.

– MoCo government seems to have no understanding of the economics of housing, or how their policies are making housing too expensive.  Rockville is competing with a private firm seeking to purchase the complex.  That is wasteful.  Richard Nelson, director of MoCo’s Department of Housing, defended the purchase: “Their objective — return on equity — is not the public policy of supporting affordable housing.”   Increasing the supply of housing, by economic reasoning, will help alleviate the high price of housing.  Too bad Nelson seems to be ignorant of this.   Governments in general, and especially Montgomery County, are more often blinded by the attraction of building something they can point to and say “That’s ours.”  The edifice complex wins out over an effective policy to improve housing.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Edifice Complex, Housing, The War on the Poor, Uncategorized

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