2021 Housing Legislation in the Prince George’s County Council
As of today, there have been three bills related to housing in the Prince George's County Council this year. Two of those bills have already been enacted, and one is still in committee. All three bills will have an impact on housing in the County. Here is a quick snapshot of each bill. Links to the bill text and other relevant documents are provided.
In 2012, via CB-21-2012, the Council created the Prince George’s County’s Housing Investment Trust Fund (with an amendment in 2017) to address the County’s many affordable housing challenges. The 2012 bill was a response to the 2008 foreclosure crisis in Prince George’s County, which, aside from leading to foreclosures, led to home price escalation, and eventually an increase of blighted homes and destabilized neighborhoods. The effect of the foreclosure crisis had a disproportionate impact on Prince George’s County, as, within the first nine months of 2011, 22,401 Prince George’s homeowners had received a notice of intent to foreclose.
To address these issues, CB-21-2012, established that the purpose of the County’s Housing Investment Trust Fund was to:
Develop effective strategies to strengthen County neighborhoods impacted by foreclosures consistent with the adopted Prince George's County Five-Year Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan.
Provide for gap financing to enable the County to support the development of new construction and preservation of existing workforce and affordable housing
Provide housing counseling, rental, down payment, and closing cost assistance for eligible persons to retain or purchase vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties.
Acquire, rehabilitate, resell, or lease-purchase of all for-sale properties in Prince George's County to include vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties to eligible persons, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit affordable housing providers;
Provide for land banking of vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties in the County.
To otherwise reduce and minimize the occurrence of foreclosures by coordination and use of County, State, and Federal resources and programs; and
To increase and preserve the supply of safe and affordable homeownership opportunities to grow the County's tax base revenue.
Under the current law, there is not a dedicated funding source for the Housing Investment Trust Fund; as a result, funding for the Housing Investment Trust Fund funding is not mandatory but discretionary. This means funding stems from appropriation acts introduced each year in the Council CB-004-2021 implements a recommendation from the Housing Opportunities for All Workgroup Annual Report from January 2020 that recommended increasing the County's Housing Investment Trust Fund. The report stated by reallocating the County’s recordation tax $46 million to $53 million will be generated annually to support the County's General Fund. The report states that this will provide a source of funding for the Housing Investment Trust Fund that will be both immediate and sustainable. The legislation grants the Council the authority to decrease the recordation tax allocation if there is a nationwide recession.
This legislation amended the provisions of the County’s Housing Code to conform to the 2018 edition of the International Property Maintenance Code (IMPC). A letter from the County’s Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement noted that since the County has not adopted the IPMC since 2000, they have not been inspecting and enforcing conditions that meet current standards and best practices.
This new act puts Prince George’s County in alignment with the State of Maryland and surrounding jurisdictions. The Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement says that this act's impact will provide better housing for Prince George’s residents. The bill also amends language in Section 13-120 to address “pest elimination” rather than “extermination.” This change was made for consistency with the terminology used in the Section title.
This legislation addresses housing construction for all dwelling units constructed in Prince George’s County after July 1, 2022. At its core, this legislation addresses issues of accessibility to better comply with the Americans with Disability Act. It aims to ensure that new construction complies with “design and visitability” concepts, which has the purpose of creating an environment that all people can use. “The Universal Design and Visitability concepts have thee goal of benefiting everyone desiring comfort and functionality regardless of age, physical stature, or disability. It should be noted that Prince George’s County has a growing number of military personnel and veterans and that 19% of the County’s veteran population is considered disabled,
A few of the proposed new requirements for houses include:
There is to be a step-free route of travel to at least one -step-free entrance to the dwelling unit.
The door of this entrance shall be 36-inches-wide and shall meet any applicable building 26 requirements.
2.) Interior Accessible Route
Hallways shall have a minimum clearance of 42-inches-wide
Accessible routes shall have hard surface flooring or low pile carpet that allows resistant free use of a wheelchair or similar mobility aid or device
3.) Bathroom Wall Reinforcement
Easy to use controls on sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets shall be provided with the use of automated options where feasible
Dwelling units shall have a full bathroom on the entry-level, or ½ bath designed to be converted to a full bathroom.
All light controls shall be placed no higher than 48-inches, on center, above the floor, or be an automated, hands-free option that detects movement.
There will be 40-inch minimum clearances installed between all opposing base cabinets, counters, appliances, and walls within the kitchen work area.
Levers or automated fixtures for sinks will be installed.
Audible and visible smoke/fire/CO alarms will be installed.
Side-by-side refrigerators with pull-out shelves are to be installed.
For dwelling units with multiple levels, the builder should:
Identify the designated location and provide the necessary rough-in/pre-planned construction for the installment of an elevator shaft (e.g. pantry, stacked closet or storage with knock-out or collapsible floor) or, another creative solution designed within code; or
Install a residential elevator with a minimum 3-foot x 4-foot clearance floor area at the time of initial construction