There are TWO Montgomery Counties on the list of the Wealthiest Counties in the U.S.
Montgomery County, MD is #10 on the list
Montgomery County, PA comes in at a respectable #51
The average median income of households in MontCo MD is $92,909 Population: 989,794
The average median income of households in MontCo PA $76,220 Population: 804,210
(POTTSTOWN: $35,785 median income is less than half the figure for the whole county)
The list of wealthiest communities is where the similarities end between the two MontCo’s, for the sake of conversation about integration, housing, education, job opportunities and the poor.
John F. Kennedy :
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
Montgomery County Maryland took a proactive stance, beginning in the 1970′s, with their model Inclusionary Zoning Program, and many counties have followed their lead.
Inclusionary Zoning : ”A policy that requires real estate developers to set aside a portion of the homes they build to be rented or sold at below-market prices. The zoning stipulation has caused the production of more than 12,000 moderately priced homes in the county since 1976. Similar inclusionary zoning policies have since spread to over one hundred high-cost housing markets in California; Massachusetts; New Jersey; New York City; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Denver and Boulder, Colorado; the greater Washington, D.C., metro area; and Burlington, Vermont, among others.”
Heather Schwartz, A Century Foundation Report
As you can see, Inclusionary Zoning has become a benchmark for many towns and counties throughout the U.S. yet, MontCo PA remains behind the cue ball. But it is a concept whose time has come.
Obama’s efforts to address fair housing in the news:
“the product of an interagency partnership between Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Run by Shelley Poticha, a veteran of the Smart Growth movement who previously held leadership positions at several top advocacy groups, the office’s mission is to “create strong, sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and helping to build a clean energy economy.” To start with, the office has been allocated $140 million to distribute to regions and communities that embrace the Administration’s vision of sustainability.”
“For a community to be sustainable, first and foremost, people need to have a job,” says Mariia Zimmerman, Poticha’s deputy. “And having access to that economic opportunity for all households throughout the region is really critical. We can’t just have affluent neighborhoods in one area of the region, or jobs centered in a couple parts of the region… We see social equity, racial equity, income equity as being very critical and central.”
What we see taking shape now, in Washington, is a re-vamping of the concepts in housing and opportunity for the poor. The approach has been well received by advocates who focus on racial and economic integration:
“The model, though, is very much opt-in. “We are not forcing communities to have to do something,” says Zimmerman. Rather, the idea is to support local leaders who buy in, and try to demonstrate success that will generate momentum. “It’s not something that’s a top-down approach,” she says.”
The pivotal idea to impart to our state, county and local leaders is this: Opting In for a share of the $140 million is a choice we need them to make on behalf of our community.
Did MontCo seek a share of the office’s $100 million in regional planning grants that were required to provide data about segregation in their region?
Montgomery County, (MD) as an Exemplary Case of Economic Integration and…
a solution to our failing school policies:
“School enrollment patterns are closely tied to residential patterns. In short, housing policy is school policy.”
On a similar note: The word is making it’s way around Pottstown that there is yet another Low-Income Tax Credit Investor on our horizon. Housing Visions, a New York tax-credit developer, is interested in the Fecera’s Building.
Fecera’s is currently owned by a group of investors, some who are from Phoenixville. This group has met with success rehabbing market rate housing and commercial spaces, contributing to the continued upswing of opportunities and the economy in the community of Phoenixville.
But we are not Phoenixville, (a fact you may have noticed), and while the owners of Fecera’s may have been loath to put a development like this in their own back yards, Pottstown is another story…
The groups original plans to build condominiums for homeowner artists and entrepreneurs, (gallery and commercial space on the main floor), is now being re-visioned as low-income rental housing, for artists, with commercial space remaining. That sounds cool but there are two main realities: #1 it would contribute more rentals in an already glutted low-income rental market. #2 “low-income” is the operative: by the guidelines implicit in the Federal Fair Housing Act nobody with a voucher could be turned away – artist or otherwise.
An unfortunate turn of events for a community already struggling with too many poor and low-income. A development of this nature would best serve the needs of the poor and their children by being located in a community that has good schools, job and educational opportunities. Pottstown must attract market rate developers and strive to achieve balance for the existing homeowner/taxpayers and businesses. Low Income does not bring expendable income to our community nor does it elevate our prospects for attracting other investors.
For now, there are more questions than answers about this proposal however…
locating additional low-income housing in disadvantaged communities is an archaic approach and it is in complete opposition to the anthesis of the new model for affordable housing at the Federal level …
“The Administration’s stance represents a real break from a past — and some parts of the present — in which federal policy tended to focus affordable housing investments in poor neighborhoods even as it accelerated the flight of opportunity, in the form of both good jobs and good schools, to outlying areas. (To cite just one example, a recent analysis of the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit in Southern California conducted by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA found that units funded by the credit, which now supports the bulk of new subsidized housing nationwide…
were disproportionately located in high-poverty, segregated areas that fed into low-performing schools.)”
…Meanwhile as I rally to get homeowners to attend tonight’s meeting with the commissioners, I hear defeat in many of their voices. They can see no other way to survive financially and acquire quality of life than to walk away from their homes and Pottstown – if you have any doubt about it….
we are in crisis