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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How does Montgomery County define affordable housing?
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).
What is a moderately priced dwelling unit (MPDU)?
• 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).
What is the income eligibility for an MPDU and workforce housing?
• 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.
What are the benefits for providing MPDUs?
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
How many MPDUs have been built since the beginning of the program?
The Department of Housing and Community Affairs tracks the
number of MPDUs produced.
How long must a unit stay an MPDU?
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.
Are there any benefits to providing higher numbers of MPDUs?
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.
What areas of Montgomery County are legally required to provide 15 percent MPDUs?
• 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.
Where is existing and proposed senior housing located in Montgomery County?
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.
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.
How are public benefit points calculated for projects where the legal requirement is 15%?
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%.
What are the MPDU law changes effective October 31, 2018?
View a detailed PowerPoint about the recent changes to the
View the amended Chapter 25A through
Bill 34-17 and Bill 38-17.
Revised Bonus Density Chart.