The city of Annapolis may soon expand its affordable housing program to county residents while it overhauls the entire legislation.
"When the legislation was written there was an omission," said Theresa Wellman, chief of community development for Annapolis. "When I looked at other communities, they all have regulations for what to do if builders are unable to find qualified buyers."
The Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) Law passed in 2004. It requires new developments with more than 10 units provide 12 percent of its homes and 6 percent of its rentals for less than market value.
People who live or work within city limits are eligible to buy these homes if they earn 100 percent or less than the area's median family income, which ranges from $56,875 for an individual to $107,250 for a family of eight.
In July, nine houses and condominiums in Annapolis became the first MDPUs to come on the market since the law's passage.
But the developers have struggled to sell them.
"Our main problem in approving people is the credit rating. We validate your income and give you a certificate. But once they get it, they have to get approval from the mortgage companies," said Planning and Zoning Director Jon Arason. "The goal is not to penalize someone for providing these units."
Alderman Ross Arnett (D-8th Ward) initially wondered whether raising the income qualifications for city residents would help sell the units.
"It’s more of a focus on the person’s income rather than where they are from," Wellman said. "The purpose of the program is to provide housing for people at a certain income level."
Arnett ultimately agreed to support an amendment to the law that would allow the city to open the program up to qualified residents of Anne Arundel County.
Arnett, Alderwoman Classie Hoyle (D-3rd Ward) and Alderman Richard Israel (D-1st Ward) all agreed that the three-page law needs to be rewritten—especially when compared against the rules and guidelines established for a similar program in Montgomery County.
Now that these units are finally on the market, the three members of the Rules and City Governance Committee said there are simply too many issues.
"It’s clear we need to get in and redo this legislation rather than keep going in to patch up this legislation," Hoyle said.
Wellman is open to the idea, but said "that will take a very long time." Builders who are unable to sell these units need a short-term fix while the city works on revamping the program's rules.
Arnett, Hoyle and Israel unanimously voted to recommend that City Council amend the law to allow for county applicants and send it back to planning and zoning for a "complete overhaul."
Council will take up the law again at its next meeting on Nov. 26.