Montgomery Planning is committed to supporting the development of various housing types to meet the needs of our growing and increasingly diverse population. Through the master planning process, we look at housing needs in small areas and develop strategies to encourage strategic development and redevelopment opportunities supported by infrastructure.
Affordable housing components of developments are evaluated during the review process for compliance with regulatory requirements and as a public benefit. The Planning Department also conducts large scale research studies to inform countywide public policies related to housing and land use. Recent studies undertaken by our staff analyze data and recommend policies about the rental housing market, including moderately priced dwelling units (MDPUs); senior housing; and multi-unit, clustered “missing middle” housing.
Missing Middle Housing
“Missing Middle” housing refers to a range of building types that are compatible in scale, form and construction with single-family homes, but include multiple housing units. Learn how we are planning for this.
Rental Housing Study
The purpose of the study is to identify Montgomery County’s rental housing issues and needs, and offer holistic and sustainable approaches to meeting them. Read the Rental Housing Study.
Housing for Older Adults Study
A study of the housing for older adults in Montgomery County was undertaken by the Planning Department’s Research and Special Projects Division in response to the county’s growing number of residents aged 55 and older – estimated to be nearly 288,000 people – and the housing challenges this population faces. View the Housing for Older Adults Study.
Preservation of Affordable Housing
Project to better understand how both agencies can best balance market pressures to redevelop these properties and increase the overall supply of residential units, and the need to preserve market-rate affordable housing, particularly for families. Learn more about the preservation of affordable housing.
Housing Needs Assessment
The Housing Needs Assessment provides the background necessary to develop a comprehensive housing policy that meets the needs of current and future residents.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
An Accessory Dwelling Unit as defined in Montgomery County code is a second dwelling unit that is subordinate to the principal dwelling. Learn more about ADUs.
Residential Development Capacity Analysis
With only 15 percent of land available for development or redevelopment in Montgomery County, MD, the county needs to consider the most optimal ways to meet the needs of a growing population. Learn more about Residential Development Capacity Analysis.
Local Housing Targets Project
The Local Housing Targets project allows both community members and countywide decision makers to better contextualize and understand the housing shortage at a more local level—and to drive strategies that help us meet the housing goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
In Montgomery County, affordable housing generally falls into four categories:
Income-Restricted Affordable Housing: A moderately priced dwelling unit (MPDU) is built under a government regulation or a binding agreement requires the unit to be affordable to households at or below the income eligibility for the MPDU program. Under this program, income requirements are usually 65 percent of area median income (AMI) for garden apartments, and 70 percent (AMI) for high-rise apartments.
Income-Restricted Workforce Housing: Chapter 25B of the Montgomery County Code defines housing that is affordable to households earning up to 120 percent of AMI or less as workforce housing. Income-restricted workforce housing is bound by government regulation and workforce housing is negotiated on a project-by-project basis. When a master plan refers to workforce housing as a part of its affordable housing goals or requirements, household incomes are limited to 100 percent of area median income. Workforce housing rents must be 20 percent lower than market rents.
Market-rate Affordable Housing: Market-rate affordable dwelling units rent at prices affordable to households earning no more than 80 percent of area median income, based on unit and household sizes. These units are typically found in older buildings and their rents are lower than the median rent for the planning area. Market-rate affordable dwelling units are not income-restricted by government regulation and not defined in the Montgomery County Code.
Rent-Restricted Affordable Housing: This term is not currently defined in the Montgomery County Code or commonly used, but describes housing where rent increases are limited and no income tests are required for the tenants. The preservation of market-rate affordable housing may require an agreement that both establishes the baseline rent (priced to be affordable at 80 percent of AMI) and rent restrictions (such as requiring a rent increase only according to the voluntary rent guideline).
The preliminary recommendations for the Attainable Housing Strategies initiative support the housing recommendations in the update to the county’s General Plan, known as Thrive Montgomery 2050. As mentioned in the Third Place Blog on the topic, while much has been said about Thrive Montgomery 2050’s proposal to encourage more Missing Middle Housing types, this recommendation is one of many in the plan. Thrive Montgomery 2050 contains wide-ranging policies that address both income-restricted and naturally occurring affordable housing and attainable housing. These policies involve the refinement or creation of new financial, zoning, and or policy tools.
• Montgomery County’s moderately priced dwelling unit (MPDU) program is one of the nation’s first mandatory, inclusionary zoning laws. It was implemented in 1973 to help meet the goal of providing a full range of housing choices in the county for all incomes, ages and household sizes. An MPDU is a county government-regulated unit that is required to be affordable to households earning 65 percent of area median income (AMI) for garden-style apartments and 70 percent for high-rise apartments.
• The program’s implementation involves both the public and private sectors, with the local government performing regulatory and administrative functions, and the building industry producing the housing.
• Between 12.5 and 15 percent of the total number of units in every subdivision or high-rise building of 20 or more units must be moderately priced, according to the MPDU regulation.
• Effective October 31, 2018, developments with less than 20 but more than 10 units are required to make a payment to the Housing Initiative Fund in lieu of an MPDU requirement on-site. For more information, contact the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
• Three agencies within Montgomery County are key to the implementation of the MPDU program:
Montgomery County Planning Department
Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA)
Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC).
• The Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs lists the income eligibility for the MPDU programs on its website. The agency categorizes eligibility by for-sale dwellings and rentals (generally 65 percent of area median income for garden-style, 70 percent of area median income for high-rise apartments) and for workforce housing (80 to 120 percent of area median income).
• Income limits are based on the area median income set by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a particular fiscal year.
The benefits and bonus density vary by zone; please refer to Chapter 59 of the Montgomery County Code for detailed breakout. See below for a general summary by zone (changes to bonus density effective October 31, 2018). For a detailed chart of the percent bonus density permitted for each percent of MPDUs, download the Revised Bonus Density Chart (PDF).
|Optional Method MPDU Development
(R-60, R-90, etc.)
|• Public Benefit Points in C/R and Employment Zones (12 points for every 1% of MPDUs greater than 12.5%)
• Projects >12.5% up to 15% MPDUs- .88% bonus density for every .1% increase in MPDUs for a maximum of a 22% bonus density
• Projects that provide >15% up to 20% MPDUs – .16% for every .1% increase in MPDUs for a maximum of 30% bonus density
• Projects that provide more than 20% MPDUs – increase in density equal to 30% plus 1% for each additional 1% of MPDUs provided in excess of 20%
• In the Bethesda Overlay Zone, residential may be increased above the mapped residential FAR by 17.5% plus 0.1% for each 0.1% increase in MPDUs above 17.5%
(TLD, TMD, THD)
(R-10, R-20, R-30)
|C/R and Employment
(CR, CRT, CRN, EOF, LSC)
with a “T” designation
|C/R and Employment
(CR, CRT, CRN, EOF, LSC)
without a “T” designation
The Department of Housing and Community Affairs tracks the number of MPDUs produced.
In 2004, the Montgomery County Council amended the MPDU control period governing for-sale MPDUs from 10 years to 30 years and for rental MPDUs from 20 years to 99 years.
If you provide 20 percent MPDUs, you are not required to provide any other category of public benefit points for optional method projects in the C/R and employment zones.
If you provide 25 percent MPDUs, you are exempt from paying transportation and school impact taxes under §52-49 and §52-89.
• 15 percent is mandatory in the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan area through the Bethesda Overlay Zone.
• Effective on October 31, 2018, planning areas where 45 percent of the United States Census tracts have a median income of 150 percent of Montgomery County’s median income will have a legal requirement to provide 15 percent MPDUs.
o The most recent 5-year estimate for Montgomery County’s median household income is $100,352 (source: 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate).
• The MPDU requirement will be calculated every year by the Montgomery County Planning Department and the maps will be updated each year by January 1.
• The planning areas currently included in the requirement are Goshen, Lower Seneca, Darnestown, Travilah, Potomac, North Bethesda and Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
• View a map of the planning areas with a legal requirement for 15 percent.
The Planning Department’s Research and Special Projects team recently completed a study of housing for older adults that includes a summary of the housing supply and residential projects for seniors in the development pipeline. View the housing for older adults report.
A web map associated with the study includes the following facilities: senior projects in review, senior housing pipeline (divided by type), existing senior housing and group quarters, independent living and active adult homeownership.
For Planning Areas that have a legal requirement to provide 15% MPDUs, projects in the C/R and Employment zones are permitted to earn public benefit points for providing more than 12.5%, even though it is legally required. Projects are permitted to earn 12 points for every 1% of MPDUs greater than 12.5%.
For projects in the Bethesda Overlay Zone, public benefit points may be granted for providing more than 15% MPDUs, at the rate of 15 points for every 1% of MPDUs greater than 15%.