'Slap In The Face': Affordable Housing Bill Voted Down In Anne Arundel

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The Anne Arundel County Council on Monday voted against the Essential Worker Housing Access Act of 2023. The Arundel Center, which houses the council chambers, is pictured above in Annapolis on a different day. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD - An affordable housing bill was voted down Monday in Anne Arundel County.

The bill would have required most real estate developers to reserve some units as moderately priced housing for renters or buyers.

The legislation was voted down with four no's and three yes's, The Capital and The Baltimore Banner reported.

Supporters

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) had lobbied for the bill since it was introduced on Oct. 2

Pittman called the vote "a slap in the face to the large part of our workforce that is priced out of most of the new homes and apartments being built today."

"The aggressive campaign by real estate developers to kill this inclusionary housing bill was in my view short-sighted, but, unfortunately, very effective," Pittman said in a press release. "Their generous campaign contributions and well-targeted lobbying were as effective today as they were twenty years ago."

Pittman was referring to a similar affordable housing bill that fell just short of passing the Anne Arundel County Council in 2004, The Banner said. 

Pittman hoped the bill would pass this time because it was backed by "labor organizations, civil rights organizations, churches and community groups under the umbrella of Anne Arundel Connecting Together (ACT), neighborhood associations affiliated with Growth Action Network (GAN), and the Anne Arundel County Affordable Housing Coalition."

The county executive promised to introduce legislation in the coming weeks that, if passed, would ban campaign donations from developers with pending applications. 

He also hopes campaign finance legislation that passed this June will help. 

Starting in the 2026 election, county executive and council candidates can choose to fund their campaigns with a public pool of money. This is not mandatory, but it's intended to level the playing field for candidates who don't want campaign donations from corporations.

Opponents

The affordable housing bill was voted against by the council's three Republicans: Nathan Volke (District 3), Amanda Fiedler (District 5) and Shannon Leadbetter (District 7).

Leadbetter opposed the proposal because it would have given the government more responsibility, The Capital reported. The affordable housing would have been run by the government-affiliated nonprofits Arundel Community Development Services and the Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County.

"It’s the growth of the administration we would have to do to make the program run," Leadbetter said, according to The Capital.

Allison Pickard (District 2) was the only Democrat to vote against the proposal. She thought the bill didn't incentivize developers to build in Anne Arundel County, where housing demand is outpacing construction. The Baltimore Banner said Pickard pointed to neighboring Baltimore City, which offers tax incentives for developers.

"I’m looking for results that will give us the biggest impact and the most housing opportunities for our families," Pickard said, according to The Banner. "I’m disappointed that this is where we are with this bill."

How It Would've Worked

The bill would have required new developments of more than 10 units to build moderately priced housing for lower-waged workers.

"With the average apartment rent creeping toward $2,000 a month, and the median single family home selling for $470,000, nobody can deny that a crisis is brewing," Pitman said in his Dec. 5 state of the county address. "But we must do more."

The bill was called the "Essential Worker Housing Access Act of 2023," but it was more lenient than that. Anybody who met the income requirements could've qualified for the housing if they live, work or accept a job offer in Anne Arundel County.

New developments with more than 10 units would've had to designate 15% of rental units and 15% of for-sale units as moderately priced housing.

Some developments with 10 to 19 units could've avoided this requirement by donating to the county's housing trust special revenue fund. Any single-family community with at least 10 detached homes could've also made this donation instead of building moderately priced housing.

Pittman said these rental units would've had to be affordable for those making 75% of the area's median income, which is $62,156 annually for a single person and more for families.

He said the units for sale would've needed to be affordable for those making 100% of the area's median income, which is $82,875 annually for a single person and more for families.

The since-rejected proposal, also called Bill No. 78-23, is posted here.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the public campaign finance legislation had failed. That was incorrect. It passed this June. We have since corrected our story, and we apologize for our mistake.

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Liberal politicians just can't seem to make up their minds. All they talk about is how great the economy is, it's booming. All the while pushing for "affordable housing" for "low income" residents. If the liberal policies in place were so great with their booming economic impact, there should be no such thing as low income residents. Sounds like something else is going on here. 

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