The Minor Master Plan and Protecting Affordable Housing on Maple Avenue
The Minor Master Plan recommends preserving and improving existing affordable housing in the area while supporting the creation of a diversity of new market rates and affordable housing. The Plan proposes the increase of affordable housing opportunities and sets the benchmark of achieving no net loss of affordable housing (Public Hearing Draft Section 3.3.2).
The Minor Master Plan is built on the goals of Thrive Montgomery 2050, which strive to make housing more affordable and attainable both through new construction and preservation. The Plan proposes new zoning for Maple Avenue from Philadelphia Avenue to Sligo Creek Parkway. The purpose of the new zoning is to clean up old zoning that is obsolete, to make existing buildings compliant with zoning laws, and to allow for a mix of both commercial and residential uses.
The current zoning in the Maple Avenue District is predominantly residential, with an overlay zone which allows for small amounts of retail. Most of the Maple Avenue properties are zoned R-10, the densest residential zone, and a few are R-20, moderately dense residential. Under current zoning, in an R-10 district, multi-unit properties may be redeveloped under the standard method to a maximum height of 100’. Currently, several of the largest buildings in the District are 12 stories, with a maximum building height of 17 stories. Most of the buildings were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, and many are in need of reinvestment to ensure quality, affordable housing.
There are approximately 1,260 housing units in the Maple Avenue District; condominiums make up 16 percent of the units; approximately 40 percent are market-rate rental units governed by the City’s rent stabilization laws; and 44 percent are affordable rental units, also known as “deed restricted subsidized housing”.
Affordable Housing and Market Rate Housing:
The City of Takoma Park has policies in place that offer protections for current renters on Maple Avenue. It is a multi-layered picture of how rent-stabilization policies, for-profit building owners, and non-profit affordable housing providers create and manage housing in the community.
Condominium units are individually owned and taxed, just like single-family homes. A condominium property is governed by a condo board, who oversees property improvements and maintenance. If a condominium owner decides to rent their unit, that rental unit would be subject to the City’s rent stabilization ordinance.
The City’s rent stabilization ordinance first implemented over 40 years ago, allows landlords to use the first five years after the creation of the rental unit to establish the base rent. After five years, the landlord may only increase rent by a factor of inflation, as identified by the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) adjustment. (3.7% in FY24). In Montgomery County, larger multi-unit development is also impacted by the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) law, which requires development to set aside at least 12.5% of new units for residents making no more than 65% AMI (for garden-style apartments) or 70% AMI (for high-rise apartments).
Deed-Restricted Subsidized Housing
There is a category of housing that does not fall under the rent stabilization laws of the City because it is “deed-restricted subsidized housing,” meaning there are covenants and easements on properties to guarantee units remain available only for low-income households. The federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department and other affordable housing financing programs will set maximum allowable rents for deed restricted subsidized housing. The maximum rents are set so households pay no more than 30% of their annual income in housing expenses.
The existence of Takoma Park’s rent stabilization ordinance has succeeded in preserving highly affordable rents in the City as compared to the broader Washington Metro region. The below compares regional median rents based on the American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year data survey. In Takoma Park, 93% of non-subsidized, market-rate rental housing rents at below the maximum federal limit for low-income (50% AMI) households.
Regional Median Monthly Rents
|DC Metro Area||Montgomery County||City of Takoma Park|
In the Washington area, there is a shortage of housing. Takoma Park generally has two types of housing available: affordable apartments, or single-family housing, which in today’s market is out of reach of younger or lower income residents. The City lacks the diverse housing options needed for an economically, socially and racially diverse community. In October, 2019, the Takoma Park City Council adopted the Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan. The overarching themes of the Strategic Plan are to:
- Preserve existing businesses and affordable housing in Takoma Park, including in revitalizing areas;
- Produce more housing and opportunities for businesses to start and grow across the income spectrum and in neighborhoods across the City to meet the diverse housing and economic needs;
- Protect renters, homeowners, and local businesses from discrimination and displacement; and protect our environment from destruction.
The Strategic Plan includes details under each category: The following objectives are listed under “Produce:”
- 1. Increase the number of units and variety of housing types across the affordability spectrum that are attractive to a diverse demographic and do not result in economically segregated communities or increase existing economic segregation.
- 2. Encourage the construction of new moderate and higher density infill commercial, residential and mixed-use development and redevelopment, consistent with the recommendations of the City’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.
The Draft Minor Master Plan also presents recommendations for housing production, affordable housing production and preservation of housing and affordability. The following recommendations are for Housing Production:
- Support a creative diversity of housing options including personal living quarters and/or micro units; “missing middle” housing types such as tiny houses, cottages, duplexes, townhomes, multiplexes, and small apartment buildings; shared housing, cooperative housing, co-housing, live-work units, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), to help meet housing needs and diversify housing options.
- Provide financial and other incentives to boost housing production for market rate and affordable housing, especially near transit and in Complete Communities.
- New housing developments in the Plan Area should strive to increase the quality and quantity of housing units that are accessible to people with disabilities and older adults.