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Housing Affordability and Attainability

The Washington region has experienced slow but steady growth in recent decades, even as many parts of the country have struggled to attract residents and economic opportunities. Unfortunately, the region (including Montgomery County and most neighboring jurisdictions) has not generated enough new housing – particularly housing that matches the incomes and needs of the workforce – to match this relatively moderate pace of population and job growth. From 1980 to 2018, the average number of dwellings built each year in Montgomery County has steadily declined, both in absolute terms and relative to the rest of the region. Building permits have lagged well behind the 4,200 a year average that the Council of Governments (COG) has estimated are needed to address inadequate housing production and supply.

The number of households spending at least 30 percent of income on housing costs has continued to grow.

Housing affordability in Montgomery County is a growing problem. Weak supply is driving the price of housing up for both renters and those who want to own their home. The number of households spending at least 30 percent of income on housing costs has continued to grow. Housing price increases have outpaced growth in incomes, leading some people to leave the county in search of more affordable places to live. Homeownership rates have been in decline, especially for adults under the age of 35. The obstacles faced by young workers in finding housing they can afford makes it harder for employers to attract and retain the employees they need, damaging our economic competitiveness. With 200,000 more residents projected to live in Montgomery by 2045 and limited space to build housing units, we need new solutions to tackle the county’s growing housing crisis.

The high cost and limited variety of available housing exacerbate inequality and segregation by race and class. Home prices vary widely in different parts of the county, closely tracking the racial and economic characteristics of neighborhoods, with predominantly white residents living in more expensive neighborhoods with better access to jobs, schools, and transportation options than the African American or Latino residents of less expensive neighborhoods.

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Last Updated: December 9, 2021