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Housing and the Affordability Crisis

Though housing decisions get made on a local level, Homes For All advocates for a broad approach to housing affordability. 

It’s increasingly a workforce and economic issue, and the boundaries between one municipality and the next are largely invisible. The increasing price of housing, especially for new units outpaces changes in area wages. The recent increases in inflation rates make obtaining a mortgage that much harder. In 2019, Montgomery County had a median sales price of $310,000. In 2022, that median sales price had climbed to $400,000. The number of days that houses for sale stayed on the market continues to decline—so if a potential homebuyer isn’t in the position to act immediately it makes the competition nearly impossible. And while the inventory of existing homes continues to be primarily single-family detached, new construction is primarily multifamily and single-family attached units. Starter homes for growing households are few and far between. 

The geography of the county’s affordability is also changing. 

Once considered more affordable because of their older housing stock, some of the county’s boroughs are increasingly out of reach for homebuyers and renters. New infill development, a walkable environment, transit access, and quality school districts have, in part, fueled sizeable increases in the median sale price in these downtown areas. 

More and more people pay a larger share of their income for housing, leaving less money for other essentials. Generally, housing is considered “affordable” if the occupants pay no more than 30 percent of their income for the dwelling. The problem is most evident in rental units. As of the 2000 Census, 33 percent of all renter households paid 30 percent or greater of their income for housing costs. Since the 2010 Census, the percentage of all renters paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs has remained stubbornly above 40 percent. 

Businesses looking to recruit new workers or keep existing employees want nearby homes that appeal to all types of employees. Business owners have indicated they feel they lost out on employees who couldn’t find the right type of home, or if the prospective employee could find the right home, it was too far from the job. 

Housing policies have real, long-lasting consequences whether intentional or not. 

We would like anyone who wants to live in the county to be able to do so—the young person just starting out, the grandparent looking to retire, the emerging professional, the growing family. When communities have homes available at all price points, households have a fair chance at finding homes that are suitable for their needs.