Local housing advocates are trying to revive a measure that would require developers to set aside some affordable housing at new apartment buildings or complexes.

Anne Arundel Connecting Together, a nonpartisan alliance of 18 faith congregations and community groups in the county, is urging County Council members to pass a bill that would require that a percentage of rental units in new developments offer below-market rents. About 200 people showed up at an April 30 meeting that the group held at Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis to push for the bill and ask for a seat at the table.

“The issue of housing touches everyone,” said Stephen Tillett, the pastor of Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church. “And as we do this work, everyone we talked to faces some kind of challenge related to housing.”

More than 13,000 county residents are affected by the inability to have affordable housing. Of the 55,000 renter households in the county, 45% pay more than 30% of their gross income in housing and 19% pay more than half of their income for housing, according to an ACT research team.

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Council Chair Allison Pickard and council member Lisa Rodvien, who served on a workgroup seeking to revise an affordable housing bill that was narrowly defeated by the council last year, attended the meeting, as did council member Pete Smith. All three are Democrats.

Tillett asked the council members if they would support a revised bill that comes out of the workgroup.

“Since 2012, every housing bill that I’ve been a part of voting [on] or supporting or has come across the council’s desk, I voted yes,” Smith said.

Tillett also reiterated that advocates want to be a part of discussions over the matter.

“We know what ACT has requested here. And so, I’m pushing to get as close to those things,” said Rodvien, a Democrat. “I actually think all of my colleagues and the members of the workgroup are pushing to get as close to those things as possible.”

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County Executive Steuart Pittman, a Democrat, said county leaders have tried to include advocates in deliberations and would continue to do so.

“ACT has been an important ally in our work to increase production availability of affordable housing units, and specifically to pass a strong moderately priced dwelling unit bill through the County Council. I was glad to hear that their meeting went well,” Pittman said in a statement.

Del. Mark Chang and Annapolis Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier also attended the meeting.

The Essential Worker Housing Access Act was introduced in October. The bill, which was pushed by Pittman, would have mandated that qualifying new rental developments designate 15% of units for people earning 75% of the area median income or below. That would amount to $82,875 for an individual and $118,313 for a family of four, based on a sliding county scale.

The bill failed in December by 4-3 vote. Pickard and three Republican council members — Nathan Volke, Amanda Fiedler and Shannon Leadbetter — voted against the bill. Pickard said the bill would not have created the most housing opportunities for families.

Baltimore Banner reporter Hallie Millier contributed to this report.

Royale Bonds attended Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! She previously worked as an affordable housing reporter in Greenville, South Carolina. Royale enjoys long naps, snacking and endless scrolling on social media. She looks forward to reporting on Anne Arundel County and covering the stories that matter.

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