HB 90 (2021) Modifies Comprehensive Plan Housing Element Requirements: What Maryland Jurisdictions Need to Know

Resources and Tools 

by Joseph Griffiths, AICP, Local Assistance and Training Manager

In June 2020, HB 1045 (2019) required, for the first time, that all Maryland comprehensive plans include a housing element addressing affordable housing for low income and workforce households.[1]

In response to this requirement, the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning), in partnership with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and a diverse housing stakeholder group, developed a Housing Element Models & Guidelines website.

In January 2023, HB 90 (2021) will require all housing elements developed for municipalities and non-charter counties to “affirmatively further fair housing” in addition to affordable housing. Furthermore, HB 90 requires DHCD to submit a report on fair housing to the Governor and General Assembly by Dec 1, 2023, and every five years thereafter. The bill mandates that DHCD complete this report in consultation with local governments and housing authorities in Maryland and develop a template that these partners can use to gather and present data on fair housing within their own jurisdictions.

HB 90 defines affirmatively furthering fair housing as, “taking meaningful actions…to: 

  • Overcome patterns of segregation; 
  • Foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to housing and opportunity based on protected characteristics;[2] 
  • Address significant disparities in housing needs and access to opportunity; 
  • Replace segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns; and 
  • Foster and maintain compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.” 

The bill intentionally refrains from specifying what actions jurisdictions must implement. Rather, they can develop their own approach for furthering fair housing in their communities, given that their chosen approach includes meaningful actions to address the issues listed above. Specifically, HB 90 added the following text to §3-114 of the Land Use Article, which only impacts municipalities and non-charter counties:

(d) (1)  Local jurisdictions have a duty to affirmatively further fair housing through their housing and urban development programs. 

(2)  The housing element of a comprehensive plan that is enacted or amended on or after January 1, 2023, shall include an assessment of fair housing to ensure that the local jurisdiction is affirmatively furthering fair housing.

(3)  On request of a local jurisdiction, the Department of Planning, in consultation with the Department of Housing and Community Development, shall provide technical assistance for the purpose of developing the housing element of a comprehensive plan.

At the federal level, the concept of affirmatively furthering fair housing originated in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and is governed by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (U.S. HUD). Many Maryland jurisdictions are already familiar with U.S HUD fair housing requirements, as certifying that they and/or housing authorities are affirmatively furthering fair housing is required in consolidated plans and annual action plans. The U.S. HUD website has detailed information on affirmatively furthering fair housing including its 2021 Interim Final Rule, Restoring Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Definitions and Certifications.  

During the remainder of 2022, Planning and DHCD will partner to develop guidance and resources to help jurisdictions meet the 2023 fair housing reporting and comprehensive planning requirements of
HB 90.

This will include research of existing resources, such as U.S. HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Guidebook, consideration of best practices in fair housing, and outreach to fair housing organizations and housing authorities. Planning also encourages jurisdictions to begin planning for these requirements as they continue to form their housing elements.

If you have suggestions for the resources Planning and DHCD are developing, insight on how jurisdictions can affirmatively further fair housing, or any questions about HB 90 and housing elements, please contact Joe Griffiths, Local Assistance and Training Manager for Planning, at joseph.griffiths@maryland.gov.


[1] Workforce housing: defined in statute as rental housing affordable for a household income between 50% and 100% of the area median income (AMI) or homeownership housing between 60% and 120% of AMI except for Maryland Mortgage Program target areas (60% – 150% AMI); Low-income housing: defined in statute as housing that is affordable for a household with an aggregate annual income below 60% of AMI

[2] The Fair Housing Act (Act) prohibits discrimination because of any of the following protected characteristics: race, color, religion, sex (including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (LGBTQ+)), national Origin (country of origin or ancestry), disability (a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits an individual’s major life activity or bodily function, being regarded as having such an impairment, or having a record of such an impairment), familial Status (parent(s) or guardian(s) living with a child or children under age 18 or pregnancy)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s