Debate over Maryland affordable housing legislation continues

Governor Wes Moore’s Housing Expansion and Affordability Act of 2024 has yet to advance out of committee in either the Maryland House or Senate as of Monday, despite most of his other legislative priorities making progress. The bill aims to address the state’s housing crisis by incentivizing affordable housing, streamlining construction processes, and making homeownership more accessible.

“By working together to pass this bill, we will incentivize new housing that is affordable, we will streamline the building process and we will make it easier for Marylanders to become homeowners,” Governor Moore stated during a committee hearing. The legislation could also lead to higher-density developments in certain cases.

Delegate Nick Allen of Baltimore County remains optimistic about the bill’s prospects, stating, “I would say any reports of it being dead are, to paraphrase Mark Twain, they’re greatly exaggerated.” Eric Luedtke, Governor Moore’s Chief Legislative Officer, expressed confidence in a statement, “We are feeling great, we have seen significant progress on the Governor’s Agenda coming into crossover. We appreciate the partnership of legislators in both the House and the Senate as the Governor’s bills work their way through the legislative process.”

While the bill is statewide, it could significantly impact proposed projects in Baltimore County, where recent county-wide mixed-use development legislation has yet to succeed. As such, many are closely watching the developments in Annapolis.

Delegate Ryan Nawrocki, also representing Baltimore County, opposes the bill in its current form, saying, “I mean, it would have to be really heavily amended for me to support that bill. Taking away local zoning authority is a big deal.” Nawrocki expressed concerns about potential developments in areas lacking adequate infrastructure to support them, citing issues like overcrowded classrooms and declining test scores in Baltimore County.

In the Senate, Jason Gallion described the legislation as “a state takeover of housing authority from the local jurisdictions.”

Although Delegate Allen acknowledges the need for compromise, stating, “We need to weigh the local control versus the need to do something about housing,” the specific amendments are still unclear. “What we’re doing now isn’t working either,” Allen said. “So there’s gonna be some change, there’s gonna have to be some give and take on both sides.”

As the Housing Expansion and Affordability Act of 2024 navigates the legislative process, discussions surrounding local control, infrastructure readiness, and the urgency of addressing Maryland’s housing crisis continue to shape the debate.