Missing Middle Housing in Silver Spring

Missing Middle Housing in Silver Spring

Throughout the plan, we will be adding resources to this page related to Missing Middle Housing generally and as it relates to the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities plan. Missing middle housing refers to housing types that bridge the gap between single family detached units and mid-rise apartment buildings. Missing middle housing provides diverse housing options, such as, duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, fourplexes, and multiplexes.

As Montgomery County — along with the entire DC region — faces a housing shortage, we must look at creative ways to add a variety of smaller housing types at various price points near transit. Missing middle housing is a potential solution to providing residential options along a spectrum of affordability and attainability for an increasingly diverse population, including downsizing seniors, young families and newcomers to the region.

Developing missing middle housing, however, is challenging due to market and economic conditions specific to an area and unfavorable neighborhood perceptions and regulatory requirements. In 2018, Montgomery Planning undertook a study of the zoning and economic barriers to developing missing middle housing and recommended possible solutions to overcoming these challenges. Learn more about Missing Middle Housing in Montgomery County.

The current zoning code does not have the flexibility to allow duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes townhomes or multiplexes in the single-family neighborhoods surrounding downtown Silver Spring. The Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan process will provide an opportunity to determine — through conversations with the community – appropriate ways to allow more diverse housing options to be built in this area.

What’s the difference between housing affordability and attainability?

Housing policy traditionally has focused solely on affordability, a measure of whether or not households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. We must also look at attainability. Attainability in housing is the ability of households of various incomes and sizes to obtain housing that is suitable for their needs and affordable to them. Currently it is income, not housing need, that drives access to housing. There is a growing need to make sure the housing built is attainable, appropriate and suitable for the households that live here. Implicit in this idea of attainability is the idea that a range of housing options (type, size, tenure, cost) exists in the local market. Learn more about Montgomery Planning’s Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative.

Educational Resources

Neighborhood Partners Program

A virtual educational series with on-demand videos that address a variety of topics related to Missing Middle Housing:

What is Missing Middle Housing? Presentation to the Silver Spring community by Opticos Design

On Tuesday, March 16, Montgomery Planning held a virtual event with Opticos Design on “What is Missing Middle Housing” for the Silver Spring community. Missing Middle Housing is a range of smaller units in multiunit or clustered housing types, compatible in form and scale with single-family homes. Opticos Design founder Dan Parolek introduced the concept to the American housing scene in 2010. This concept highlights a time-proven, incremental way to provide more housing choices in resilient, walkable communities.

In this presentation, Opticos Design’s Tony Perez provided an in-depth overview of Missing Middle Housing, including:

  • What “Missing Middle Housing” means, its history and why it is important
  • How policy, planning and zoning can create barriers to the delivery of Missing Middle Housing types and how communities can respond to make way for more housing options
  • How the Missing Middle Housing concept is being applied in communities around the country.

To learn more, you can watch the recording of the presentation.

Missing Middle Housing Market Study

On March 4, 2021, Planning Staff briefed the Planning Board on the findings of a market study evaluating the potential for missing middle housing in the Silver Spring area. The Market Study on Missing Middle Housing builds upon the 2018 Missing Middle Study and is a precursor to the visioning phase of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan. The Market Study is comprised of analyses of zoning, entitlement, affordability and market feasibility of different Missing Middle typologies, as well as interviews with industry professionals to help understand the barriers and opportunities to building Missing Middle housing in Montgomery County. This Market Study aims to provide necessary background knowledge and to serve as the starting point for discussions with the community during the visioning phase of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan and consideration of adding appropriate new housing types and forms to the adjacent communities.

View the presentation and staff report.

Last Updated: August 24, 2021