Maryland Gov. Wes Moore made a pitch to lawmakers Tuesday address the state’s “true housing crises” by passing bills that would allow developers to build more housing units in key areas, as well as grant more protections to renters.

The state has both a shortage of available units — either to rent or to buy — and housing costs are too high for many Marylanders, the Democratic governor said. He estimated the state has a shortage of about 96,000 housing units.

The Maryland Association of Realtors puts the housing shortage at a much higher number: Nearly 150,000 units.

“When we talk about the housing crisis that we’re all wrestling with and dealing with, we know that this is about individual lives. It’s about individual livelihoods. It’s also about the health and the success of our entire state,” Moore told members of the House of Delegates Environment and Transportation Committee.

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To underscore his point, Moore cited the types of people who may struggle with housing affordability and availability challenges: teachers, police officers and seniors.

Moore is proposing three bills he hopes will address housing issues:

Delegates on the committee welcomed Moore’s presence — they still recall eight years in which former Gov. Larry Hogan never testified before lawmakers — but they expressed reservations with some details of the proposals.

Lawmakers questioned the governor about whether there are enough protections to prevent overdevelopment that would burden schools, roads, sewer systems and other community services.

Most local governments have laws in place that can prohibit new housing developments if they’d stress community services, known as adequate public facilities laws.

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They also raised concerns about whether the larger-scale developments would inadvertently concentrate poverty in specific neighborhoods — a facet of past development patterns that local governments have been working to address.

Del. Ryan Nawrocki, a Republican from northeast Baltimore County, said communities in his district have been pushing for better schools, roads and sewer treatment.

“One thing that in this legislation that brings me to pause is: How do we deal with these communities when we have frankly been fighting to get adequate public facilities? And this could really make that worse in some communities,” Nawrocki said.

Moore said the legislation is not “heavy-handed.”

“It really more works hand-in-hand” with local governments, he said.

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Jacob R. Day, the state’s housing secretary, said local governments wouldn’t be prohibited from enforcing their adequate public facilities laws or charging impact fees on developers to pay for facility upgrades.

Rather, the legislation aims to ensure that adequate public facilities laws are not “abused” in a way “that they restrict the production of affordable units through these incentives, and instead ensure a reasonable conversation is had.”

He added: “We are not in a traffic crisis as a state ... but we are in a housing crisis and it requires a supply response.”

Dozens of people lined up to testify on the governor’s bills, most of them in support, including developers who focus on affordable communities and local government officials.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, heads the Maryland Association of Counties and said that while the governor’s proposals are “much needed,” tweaks are needed to ensure that local governments retain their authority and that local infrastructure is not compromised by additional development. Suggested amendments would be forthcoming, he said.

“Collectively, we can tackle this issue together,” he said.

Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County.

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