Frederick County: beware “affordable housing”

There’s currently a buzz for our county to back more “affordable housing” construction, as an exaction from developers or otherwise. But Tom Coale, who ran as a liberal Democrat for the legislature from Howard County last year, points out a huge drawback with many such schemes:

We all love the idea of affordable housing, little a, little h. But homeowners who buy into Affordable Housing units, big A, big H, are trapped in financial purgatory. ‘Deed restrictions’ on the resale of the property, that may run for as long as 99 years, prevent them from building wealth from the asset. That means one of the core reasons for purchasing a home, and not renting, is absent. Meanwhile, all of the burdens of home-ownership remain.

A scheme introduced by County Council member Jessica Fitzwater (D) would (among other changes) earmark some rentals as legally obliged to stay affordable for 99 years instead of 25. Policies like these have not worked in other parts of Maryland, and we should be wary of them here.

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