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affordable housing

Apr 10 09

Author to Recommend Ways to Partner with Nonprofits on Housing, Other Issues as Part of Planning Board Speaker Series

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING, MD – An expert in housing and philanthropy will bring ideas to tackle development challenges, such as planning for affordable housing, to the Montgomery County Planning Board on April 23 as part of its Growing Smarter Speaker Series.

Rick Cohen, a thought-provoking author who once directed the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, will explore the role of nonprofit and private organizations in creating social equity as communities grow.

His talk, “Leveraging the Role of Organizations in Housing and Development,” is the latest in a series of presentations as part of the board’s 2009 series. Cohen’s focus on what nonprofits might bring to the discussion of diverse housing needs is of interest to the Planning Board as it prepares to approve a new housing plan and form recommendations for the 2009-2011 Growth Policy.

Cohen will make a case that the civic sector has an even greater role to play during times of economic crisis. He will cover what nonprofits, foundations and public agencies should be doing to address smart growth, affordable housing and social equity during the economic downturn, particularly in the dynamic communities of Montgomery County.

With governments strapped for funds, Cohen’s message about what foundations around the nation are supporting in the areas of smart growth is timely. He will lay out the opportunities he sees for partnership and collaboration between nonprofits, foundations and government in good planning and development and what government might look to nonprofits to accomplish.

Cohen writes for Nonprofit Quarterly magazine, the nation’s premier journal of nonprofit policy and practice, as national correspondent and editor of the widely read Cohen Report. Cohen’s writing advocates increased philanthropic giving and access for disadvantaged and disenfranchised constituencies.

Prior to directing the philanthropic organization, he served as vice president of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in charge of national strategic planning, vice president of the Enterprise Foundation directing field programs, and director of Jersey City’s Department of Housing and Economic Development. Cohen continues to provide consulting services to nonprofits, foundations and government agencies. He also worked for the Trust for Public Land in New York City and began his professional career as a planner with Action for Boston Community Development, one of the nation’s original anti-poverty agencies.
Montgomery County Planning Department

Rick Cohen on “How Nonprofits, Foundations and Public Agencies Address Smart Growth, Affordable Housing and Social Equity”
Growing Smarter Speaker Series

7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 23

Park and Planning Headquarters auditorium
8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring

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Dec 8 08

Montgomery County Planners to Draft Countywide Housing Policies Addressing Affordability, Diversity, Green Building

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – To reflect the Planning Department’s strides in increasing the supply of  moderately priced housing and interest in creating environmentally conscious and diverse housing options, the planning director and staff presented a range of strategies to the Planning Board Thursday.

Envisioned as a housing element in the General Plan, planners propose a document specifying a raft of policies that would allow Montgomery County residents and workers to live in the county throughout their lives, regardless of life stage, income or access to a car.

The Board praised the planners’ goals in their preliminary look Thursday, noting the link between good, diverse housing and a healthy community. Once complete and endorsed by the Board and County Council, the goals will become the Housing Functional Master Plan and guide policy-makers as they review development proposals and public projects.

The planners envision the document would specify policies that:

* Encourage development near mass transit to reduce the need for car ownership, saving residents significant annual expenses
* Mix housing types and sizes in new developments to allow a range of housing prices
* Provide mixed-use development so people can enjoy nearby conveniences – such as groceries – reducing transportation costs
* Identify incentives for developers, such as higher density and fast-tracking reviews and permitting, if they provide more low and moderately priced housing than required by law
* Allow accessory apartments in all zones, which would provide affordable rental units throughout the county
* Include day care in office buildings

The plan also would include measures to track the county’s progress toward meeting those policies. Those indicators might include the number of affordable units created, reduction in monthly housing costs through programs like generating energy on site, or the number of new day care centers associated with individual projects.

Planning Director Rollin Stanley and staff in the agency’s Research and Technology Center set a schedule for taking the housing plan strategies into the community for input before inking a final document. They will start by vetting the plan with other county agencies. They hope to hold a public hearing on the plan in late winter or early spring and send it to the council for consideration in the spring.