In previous blogs, KCC has expressed concern about the amount of residential growth proposed in the draft Comprehensive Plan. Our concerns have focused on the impact on roads, schools, and the environment, but let’s focus on another major concern: housing that is affordable to our “workforce”.
Calvert County is a great place to live, but it is not a great place to find a wide variety of housing options to match housing needs. The unemployment rate is low (3.6% in May) because people typically move to the County already having jobs elsewhere. However, housing can be a challenge for those in entry-level government and service sector jobs below median income of $97,188.
To put it in perspective, an entry-level deputy making $49,000 could only afford $1,225 in rent, using the recommended standard of a maximum of 30% of income dedicated to housing costs. To earn enough money to afford $1,400 (the lowest rent in Anthony Williams new apartments under construction, one would have to earn $27 an hour, or $56,000 per year. Not many government, retail or service businesses pay their entry level workers $27 per hour in Calvert County. In many cases, the wages of long-term workers is not enough.
We support housing in Town Centers, but the key question is that if town center housing is built, will it be available to Calvert residents seeking workforce housing or will it be priced for and advertised to metropolitan workers who will further crowd our busy highways? Many counties ensure that their residents are not left out of the market by requiring that a certain percentage of the housing is for its “workforce”. If that is not a part of the housing plan, then the only thing the county residents may get out of the new housing is more traffic, overcrowded schools, and more infrastructure debt to pay. The current draft comprehensive plan does not provide such requirements.
There are two trends that would argue for more housing options in a town center setting in Calvert County. The first is an aging population, particularly the baby boomers, many of whom are seeking more maintenance-free housing options closer to services. The second is the millennial generation who tend to prefer attractive cities and towns with good shopping and great gathering areas. Rural areas across the country have not been as successful in attracting millennials. In the last decade they have been drawn to large walkable towns and cities with great gathering places and entertainment. In our region, Washington, D.C. has grown rapidly, as have the inner suburbs, particularly Howard County (1st) and Montgomery County (2nd). such as Silver Spring, Tacoma Park, Parole, Annapolis, and Columbia. 
In the most recent County Economic Development Strategic Plan, the Sage Policy Group, Inc. recommends “bringing growth and vibrancy to town centers.” The goal is to “create communities more likely to appeal to entrepreneurs and young professionals.” However, creating vibrant towns that appeal to young professionals, or millennials, requires good planning and infrastructure investment by the County to create special gathering and shopping opportunities. The Sage Group suggested that the County should “seek out entrepreneurial opportunities to create more vibrant town centers. One of the obvious targets are high-end retailers, including clothing boutiques and art galleries.”
All of these issues need to be taken into account as the County plans for additional housing in Town Centers. The best time to do that is during the Town Center Master Plan process. This is yet another reason to defer proposals for Town Center expansions until each Town Center Plan is updated.
 Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation
 Maryland Department of State Planning.