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Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved an ambitious “Housing Action Plan” whose policies, if fully fleshed out, they hope will preserve and produce affordably-priced housing in the growing suburb. The vote came during the city’s May 17, 2021, Council meeting without much comment, perhaps because City Council has been deliberating over the document for more than a year.
The 10-year plan calls for Hyattsville to develop policies and create programs in four areas – dedicating funding for affordable housing efforts, using public lands for affordable housing development, rent control, and tenant rights. While the plan is nonbinding, the unanimous vote makes it the official “housing strategy” of record for Hyattsville City Council as a body, giving the plan’s recommendations heavy weight in future deliberations on the topic.
Hyattsville has been something of a pioneer among its Prince George’s County municipal peers on affordability policies. In 2020, it became the first city in the county to offer property tax cuts – also called tax credits – to developers who promise to build affordably-priced units into their plans.
The recommendations came from a 331-page policy report created by consultants Enterprise Community Partners, hired by the city in 2019 to help city officials craft an affordable housing policy. Early in the process, City Council collectively identified several goals for its housing policy strategy, including increasing the number of units affordable for low income households, reducing property tax burdens, closing the racial homeownership gap, and to change regulations where possible to promote affordable housing production.