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MD Gov. Moore endorses bills aiming to mitigate housing crisis

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore testified Tuesday that he supports measures aimed at making housing more affordable and protecting renters, some of the governor’s top priorities this legislative session.

Moore, a Democrat, told lawmakers the state is facing a “true housing crisis” largely due to a lack of housing supply. Not only is that hurting Maryland’s economic growth, he said, but it also makes living in Maryland more expensive.

“Working together, this bill will spur new housing construction, strengthen long-term financial investment in low-income communities, and encourage states to work with local governments rather than constantly confront them. “It’s going to help us focus resources on Maryland to get more renters and get our economy moving again,” Moore said.

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One of the policies the governor supports aims to increase the state’s housing supply by encouraging construction and removing barriers to development. To that end, this bill would modernize land-use laws and simplify approvals for transit-oriented development, development of former state-owned mixed-use properties, and housing development by 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. revitalize communities, especially poor communities;

This bill would incentivize the development of these projects by allowing densification if certain conditions are met.

The governor said his administration has worked carefully with local officials on this proposal. Moore said there is an estimated shortage of 96,000 housing units and the state needs to be able to work with local jurisdictions to address these types of shortages.

Maryland Governor Moore speaks in support of a bill aimed at making housing more affordable and protecting renters during a bill hearing on February 20, 2024 in Annapolis, Maryland. expressed. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

“This is not high-handed legislation,” Moore told the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee. “They really work together.”

Another measure would strengthen state financing instruments for housing and community development. The bill would create an independent quasi-governmental agency called the Maryland Community Investment Corporation to invest in low-income communities. Federal tax credits will also apply.

The Housing and Community Development Financing Act also expands the eligible uses of the state’s Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund to include debt repayment and credit enhancement. The fund was established in 2016 to provide grants and loans to revitalization projects.

“Together, these bills will help build new housing and close the supply gap,” Moore testified. “We can strengthen our economy in the long term and create new paths from poverty to prosperity.”

Moore also testified that he supports measures to protect renters. The measure would increase the maximum fine a court can impose for a landlord to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent from $8 to $93. Half of the proceeds will be donated to the statewide rental assistance voucher program, and the other half will be donated to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, which will be used to fund civil legal services for indigent clients.

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The bill would also create a Tenant Rights Office that would provide tenants with information about their rights and create a Tenant Bill of Rights. This measure will also reduce the amount of security deposits allowed from two months’ rent to one month’s rent.

The law also amended the state’s new rental voucher program to give voucher priority to families with children under 5 and pregnant women.

The bill would also give renters the right to buy if the home is for sale by creating a right of first refusal.

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