Homes For All
To ensure that everyone who lives, works, learns, and invests in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania has equal opportunity to live in an affordable home and a thriving community.
Homes for All Overview and Process
Homes for All has been a collaborative effort from the beginning. Starting more than two years ago, Montgomery County’s Office of Housing and Community Development partnered with the Montgomery County Planning Commission and the Montgomery County Commerce Department and brought on Capacity for Change as a consultant to lead us through this multi-purpose project.
The project leaders convened an advisory committee to gauge what housing issues affected the county’s municipalities, local industries, social service providers, and housing advocates. The advisory committee met 5 times over these two years to determine what the data on housing and growth was pointing towards but also to assess what the county could be doing to help promote the construction of homes for all. With 62 municipalities that have communities running the gamut from rural to urban, these municipalities have varying housing needs and for the most part, all make land use and zoning decisions individually. This hinders the county’s ability to plan for higher level housing needs.
County staff working on this project, along with Capacity for Change, reached out to a variety of stakeholders to gather input on this planning process. Municipal officials, local industry leaders, Chamber of Commerce representatives, philanthropic leaders, and social service providers were all surveyed and interviewed to gauge what is needed on a local level. The research for this report was started in 2018, well before any concerns about COVID-19 and its effect on housing came to the forefront. It’s unclear what longterm effects this pandemic will have on the county. Lost jobs and lost income will not aid those looking for a home or those who need to pay their rent. Landlords who are unable to collect rent may have a hard time staying afloat, and housing construction may take a long time to get back to pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, with the nation heading into a recession, lower interest rates may make borrowing for housing construction and purchases a less expensive (and more appealing) undertaking. Providing a range of new housing for the county’s residents could aid in the region’s recovery.
What COVID-19 has done is laid bare the inequities that people face daily in our current housing market. Most people understand that COVID-19 is highly contagious and affects vulnerable populations—the elderly and those with underlying health conditions—in a disproportionate way. But it also impacts racial and socioeconomic inequalities. It has an outsized impact on the low-wage, essential workers in the hospitality and food service industries that so many of us rely upon in order to stay home and quarantine. And while the entire national economy has been impacted, the lost jobs and wages are most acutely felt by workers with less education and/or fewer means, who are struggling in larger numbers to afford food, housing, and other costs.
We hope that this project can be the start of a larger conservation on housing affordability and equity in Montgomery County. For more information, contact Anne Leavitt-Gruberger at 610-278-3727.