In the hope of making the City’s expensive apartments more affordable to residents, the Rockville mayor and council decided Monday to change the standards for affordable housing units to make them available to more people.
The mayor and council unanimously approved the changes, which expand the regulations to allow people 120 percent below the City’s Area Median Income to be eligible for moderately-priced dwelling units and lower the rents for people renting MPDUs. The changes apply only to new units to be built within the City.
“So, what we are seeking to do on the rental side is changing the rent calculation, so that’s affordable to everybody,” said Asmara Habte, chief of Housing Programs for the City of Rockville.
Before, the City’s regulations on MPDUs made the affordable housing units available only to people between 30 and 60 percent of the City’s AMI, but, according to City staff, affordable housing units were more realistically affordable for residents whose income was closer to 60 percent of the City’s AMI than 30 percent. City regulations passed in 1990 require new housing developments to make 12.5 to 15 percent of their units affordable housing units.
A one-bedroom affordable housing unit was available to people making between $23,200 and $46,300 a year at rents of $550 and $1,105 respectively.
The City’s changes allow people making up to 120 percent of the City’s AMI to become eligible for affordable housing units, as well as adjust the rent structure to 30 percent of a person’s annual income, whatever that may be.
The genesis for the change came as the City plans to approve new development near the Twinbrook Metro, most notably the proposed Twinbrook Quarter development, which could bring up to 3,450 jobs and 1,865 homes. City officials said they want to make sure the new housing that is put in place near Twinbrook is affordable to lower-wage workers, such as bank tellers, retail employees, and restaurant staff, who will support the businesses in and around Twinbrook
In March, the mayor and Council discussed the proposed changes, most notably increasing the income ceiling to 120 percent of the AMI. The mayor and members of the Council said they worry that the high cost of living in the City has priced many people out of housing options in Rockville and much of the County.
The changes to the City regulations take effect only on new developments.