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Press Releases - County Council

Vice President Stewart and President Friedson Introduce Zoning Measure to Allow Affordable Housing Adjacent to Places of Worship

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January 17, 2024

From the Offices of Council Vice President Stewart and Council President Friedson

Montgomery County Council Vice President Kate Stewart and President Andrew Friedson introduced a zoning measure on Tuesday that would allow the construction of multifamily housing on properties used for religious assembly or private educational institutions. 

“We are facing an affordable housing crisis. At the same time, houses of worship in our community find themselves with an oversupply of land, but too many barriers to easily put their land to use to support their mission and our broader community," stated Council Vice President Stewart. "The overall goals of the FAITH ZTA are to assist faith-based and private educational institutions to continue their work in the community and to facilitate a quicker, less cumbersome process to increase housing at all levels for both renters and home-buyers.”

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 24-01, also known as the Facilitating Affordable Inclusive Transformational Housing (FAITH) ZTA, would remove barriers to the creation of affordable housing and provide reasonable flexibility in the development standards for multi-unit and townhouse living on properties associated with faith and educational institutions. 

“Our faith-based institutions have been committed partners in addressing the affordable housing crisis but are currently limited in their ability to best support these efforts,” said Council President Friedson. “The FAITH ZTA would facilitate the creation of more affordable housing and bring forth a new and innovative opportunity for our faith-based organizations to provide for the community. These mission-driven institutions are at the forefront of supporting our most vulnerable communities and have the resources available to assist with addressing this crisis head on.”

Projects would qualify under the FAITH ZTA if dwelling units meet one of four affordability thresholds defined in the zoning measure. These projects will be reviewed as a conditional use before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings.

"We are called to build what Martin Luther King, Jr. called a 'beloved community,' where everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger and hate," said Rev. Michael Armstrong, co-chair of Action in Montgomery (AIM). "Religious communities of faith are equipped to participate in building such communities. AIM supports the FAITH ZTA because it expands our tools to serve all communities in the County."

AIM is a broad-based collective of local communities encompassing elementary school parent groups and faith institutions.

ZTA 24-01 has the unanimous support of the full Council. A public hearing is scheduled to be held on Feb. 27.

View the full staff report and frequently asked questions here.

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Release ID: 24-015
Media Contact: Cecily Thorne 301-910-0610, Cindy Gibson 240-620-8571
Categories: Andrew Friedson, Kate Stewart