The cost of housing and associated expenses puts tremendous pressure on many household budgets in Takoma Park. The impact of COVID-19 creates even greater challenges and needs.
The City of Takoma Park has a number of strong affordability programs and structures — rent stabilization, a down-payment assistance program, emergency financial assistance, active and compassionate housing staff who collaborate with residents to find solutions, landlord-tenant mediation, tenant associations, and more.
As your Councilmember, I strongly supported the adoption of the Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan, which outlines a coordinated and strategic direction for ensuring affordability and the preservation, production, and protection of housing and small businesses in our community. This year, I strongly supported the creation of a COVID-19 fund to provide residents and small businesses with emergency assistance and technical support, as well as develop new workforce development programs.
There is so much to be done to achieve our goals. We need to:
- Pursue housing projects such as:
- Develop more “missing middle” housing opportunities such as condos and townhomes that are more affordable than single-family homes in locations where there is an opportunity for growth
- Develop more senior housing so that seniors can downsize and stay in the community
- Encourage accessory dwelling units, particularly within close distance of the Takoma Metro and Purple Line, to facilitate transit-accessible housing
- Develop and move forward with plans for the New Hampshire Ave Recreation Center in a public-private partnership that provides recreational facilities and new affordable housing
- Provide childcare assistance to residents and assistance to in-home childcare providers to grow access and supply, and connect more families with local, affordable, and quality childcare and early-learning programs
- Prioritize and grow workforce development programs through partnerships with nonprofit organizations and educational providers to provide training and certification that helps residents gain careers in higher-paying fields
- Support small businesses and entrepreneurs so that they can start their own businesses, get the technical assistance, and maintain a strong and healthy network of local businesses
- Reassess and develop new tax programs:
- Develop new programs for targeted tax assistance to create a more progressive property taxing system where those who can afford to pay more do so, and those with greater need pay less
- Reassess the City’s existing Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes (PILOT) program, which provides tax reductions for some nonprofit housing providers, to ensure that it is effectively meeting our housing goals and supporting organizations that are providing quality housing. Also look for ways to utilize this program to create incentives to improve and maintain housing quality
- Discourage long-sitting vacant developed property through a separate tax category for vacant properties
- Bolster and create new tenant associations to allow for greater opportunities for residents to advocate for their needs together and with support
- Grow partnerships and connections to provide greater assistance to people experiencing homelessness