On Tuesday, October 4, the Montgomery County Council will hold its final planned session on the Thrive 2050 general plan. Thrive addresses the same major concerns AIM heard from hundreds of county residents in our listening campaigns: that today, “the high cost and limited variety of available housing exacerbate inequality and segregation by race and class,” and low-income, minority communities lack equitable access to jobs, resources, and transportation.
Thrive makes specific and necessary recommendations to address housing and transit inequities in our county, including:
- investing in “complete communities” in East County (p. 25),
- prioritizing public transit investment in underserved communities (p. 49),
- building more housing near transit (p.64),
- increasing funding to build and preserve affordable housing (p.64), and
- taking measures to measure and prevent displacement and net loss of affordable units (p.65).
What AIM learned in our listening sessions
Between October 2021 and March 2022, Action in Montgomery (AIM) conducted listening sessions with over 1,300 people who reside, worship, and work in Montgomery County. Many sessions focused on the concerns of immigrants, low-income residents, and people of color.
The high cost and limited availability of housing in Montgomery County was the leading issue in our listening sessions. Nearly 1 in 4 participants named a lack of affordable housing as their top concern.
AIM found that at minimum, among participants who listed affordable housing as a top concern:
- At least 3 in 10 had personally struggled to find housing they could afford in Montgomery County.
- Of those who had personally struggled to find housing they could afford, 1 in 4 had moved outside of Montgomery County due to high housing costs.
- Additionally, at least 1 in 10 had adult children and/or relatives who could not afford to live in Montgomery County due to high housing costs.
AIM’s position on Thrive: urgent issues require urgent action
In our report to the County Council, AIM wrote:
AIM trains leaders to build from sharing individual problems to identifying structural issues. This is a core function of effective public leadership.
The individual problems shared in AIM’s listening sessions call for structural solutions. There are people today who long to be part of a diverse, vibrant Montgomery County—immigrants, seniors, young adults, families—and find that because of our lack of affordable and transit-accessible housing options, they cannot.
The Thrive general plan introduces the structural solutions necessary to make that diverse, vibrant community a sustainable reality. It promotes principles that residents of Montgomery County widely agree will make our county better—walkable, socially connected communities; racial and socioeconomic equity; affordable and attainable housing; and environmental sustainability.
Action in Montgomery asks that the County Council pass Thrive to lay the foundation for meaningful equity and change in Montgomery County. AIM has a twenty-year record of pushing Montgomery County politicians to invest equitably in schools, housing, and infrastructure for low-income and immigrant communities. We look forward to continuing this tradition throughout the next thirty years with the passage and implementation of Thrive.