Self-assessments Help with Planning for Housing


Resources and Tools 

by Joseph Griffiths, AICP, Local Assistance and Training Manager

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) believes that addressing affordable housing begins with earnest local dialogue and focused visioning.  Nationally developed data, state resources, and comparable best practices and examples are key inputs to a housing needs assessment and action plan, but planning for the housing needs of existing and future residents also calls for internal reflection involving a wide range of stakeholders. 

Because of this, Planning created three housing self-assessments (1. Vision; 2. Analysis and Policy; 3. Implementation and Regulations) as part of its Housing Element Models and Guidelines that jurisdictions may use during the development of a housing element in their comprehensive plans, now required following the June 1, 2020 effective date of HB 1045 (2019)

Planning encourages jurisdictions to use the self-assessments to determine how well their existing housing elements or housing strategies address the requirements of HB 1045. They can serve as self-diagnostic tools for communities to determine whether they have adequately evaluated various aspects of housing. The housing priorities of each community are unique and the solutions to them must be tailored to the local resources, capacity, and vision.  

Please visit the self-assessment page for the full downloadable documents. Example questions include: 

Vision 

  • Have you considered how your local housing needs fit into the larger regional housing market? 
  • Do you consider housing planning in the context of other planning areas, such as transportation and economic/community development? 

Analysis and Policy 

  • Have you compiled data on and/or analyzed the preservation and maintenance of the existing housing stock? Does your comprehensive plan include strategies for the preservation and maintenance of the existing housing stock? 
  • Do your housing policies address missing middle housing, such as single family attached (rowhomes), duplexes, etc.? 

Implementation and Regulations 

  • In your development review or permitting process, do you treat affordable housing projects any differently than market rate housing projects? 
  • Does your jurisdiction’s building code allow for graduated regulatory requirements for rehab construction at different degrees of building alteration? 

There is not just one right answer to these questions, and the discussions they generate should not stop with a yes or no. Rather, they are designed to spark dialogue and shed light on some potential goals and strategies a jurisdiction may wish to pursue while planning for housing.  

Planning continually strives to update and improve the resources in the Housing Element Models and Guidelines. If you would like to learn more about the details of the self-assessments, or one specific question, or if you would like to suggest additional items for the self-assessments, please contact Joe Griffiths at joseph.griffiths@maryland.gov

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