Panel Explores Ways to Improve Community

November 30, 2010

What can we do to reduce housing cost burdens, increase affordable homeownership opportunities, and build stronger community connections in Takoma Park?  About 35 community members gathered at Heffner Community Center on Thursday November 18 for a panel discussion and community forum to suggest answers.


Takoma Park City Councilmember Terry Seamens called for more vigilance in maintaining the affordable housing and suggested that we can reduce the housing cost burden for homeowners by reducing their property tax burden.


Hank Prensky, a local realtor, pointed out that there are more affordable home ownership opportunities than people think.  He suggested looking for better ways to make information on housing opportunities available, and finding ways for potential homeowners to get help with their down payment.


Linda Walker, representing the City’s Department of Housing and Community Development, reported on current policy and efforts to keep rents low through rent stabilization and utilizing other affordable housing programs and nonprofit housing providers. She suggested ways to increase residents’ income by increasing their earning capacity through access to employment, education, financial literacy, and more. She also suggested that the City may be able to increase affordable rental opportunities by making it easier for homeowners to create accessory apartments.  This was an idea the County brought up several years ago as a way to increase rental units and provide extra income to homeowners.


Takoma Park City Councilmember Colleen Clay called for a paradigm shift in how renters and landlords look at how we provide and manage housing.  We need to create a better balance of jobs and housing.  Her ideas included housing cooperatives, and a land banking approach where residents own land in common, but individual househ