Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative

The Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative aims to identify viable options for existing and new county residents to find homes at the right sizes, locations, and price points for their needs. Through this new initiative we hope to expand homeownership opportunities for the county’s diverse populations. We are overseeing this initiative through a planning process that will consider various policy options to spur the development of more diverse types of housing, including Missing Middle Housing, in Montgomery County.

Attainable housing is unsubsidized market housing that is 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 for a range of household incomes and preferences. As noted in the recent Montgomery County Housing Needs Assessment, Montgomery County residents have a wide range of housing needs, with size, transit access, price, and other factors playing a role. Yet almost half of the homes in Montgomery County right now are single-family houses—great for many residents, but not attainable or even desirable for everyone. Our county hasn’t been able to keep up with diversifying housing demand, and rising prices may drive some residents away entirely.

It also helps Montgomery County grow its housing supply even where space is a concern—a critical consideration as we anticipate population growth in the coming decades. Building Attainable Housing will require us to reassess the county’s longstanding pattern of exclusively single-family neighborhoods. This will include reviewing existing single-family zone standards, including the usable area, size, setbacks, height, density, and parking requirements, as well as the process for development review and approval. We will also be looking at creating guidance on how to incorporate more housing types into master plans, and potential methods to encourage more housing types to be built in Montgomery County.

New! Initial Attainable Housing Strategies initiative recommendations include:

  • Allowing by right house-scale duplexes and triplexes and quadplexes closer to transit in our corridor-focused growth area, if they conform to a pattern book. The pattern book will give guidance on massing, scale and design to ensure these housing types blend in among single family homes.
  • Creating a new optional method of development to encourage lot consolidation and development of duplexes, cottage courts, townhouses, and small multiplexes and apartments near transit, along our growth corridors, and near the county’s centers of activity.
  • Supporting more corridor-focused master plans to evaluate options to enable development of larger/higher density townhouses, stacked flats, and apartments along select growth corridors.

Attainable Housing Strategies for a Range of Housing Types and Scales

This graphic demonstrates the relative physical scale of the attainable housing targeted by the Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative.

Graphic showing housing scales.Small scale:House-scale duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts, and accessory dwelling units 2-2.5 stories. Medium scale: Stacked flats apartment buildings (three stories), townhouses 3-4 stories. Large scale: Mixed-use Live/work buildings, stacked flats apartment buildings (four stories) 4-5 stories

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Why Attainable Housing Strategies?

The Montgomery County Council directed Montgomery Planning staff on March 4, 2021 to review and study housing options in the county. In order to explore these housing options, Montgomery Planning has launched Attainable Housing Strategies (AHS), an initiative that the Planning Department will oversee through a planning process that will evaluate and potentially refine various proposals to spur the development of more diverse types of housing, including Missing Middle Housing in Montgomery County. Through this process, Montgomery Planning will provide additional opportunities for public feedback and provide recommendations to the County Council on how to proceed with creating more tools to address the housing crisis in the county. Recommendations may include zoning text amendments, guidance on how to incorporate more housing types into master plans, and methods to encourage more housing types to be built in Montgomery County.

Learn more about the Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative through the Scope of Work.

Last Updated: June 11, 2021