Residents at MHP’s Great Hope Homes took part in a financial success workshop presented by the Montgomery County Employees Federal Credit Union (MCEFCU). Topics covered included setting financial goals, developing a savings plan, budgeting and assessing insurance needs. MHP will be sponsoring future financial workshops at Great Hope Homes and other MHP sites on additional topics, such as achieving and maintaining a good credit score. Many thanks to MCEFCU for providing the expertise and training.
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MHP is encouraging Metro to end the so-called Silver Spring turnback, a cost-cutting practice that means many northbound trains on the east side of the Red Line only go as far as the Silver Spring station and then turn around without reaching the Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont stations.
At a town hall meeting convened by Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee, Amee Bearne, MHP’s Neighborhood & Policy Coordinator, urged the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to provide the funding to end the turnbacks because of their negative impacts on people living near the three affected stops.
“MHP is not only worried about our residents, but the many other community members that we work with regularly who we know rely on Metro and must live in these areas due to income constraints,” she said. “There are significant social and economic equity impacts surrounding this policy, particularly on this side of the Red Line, and we urge WMATA to acknowledge these residents by eliminating the disruptive turnbacks at Silver Spring station.”
Committee Chairman Tom Hucker and committee members Evan Glass and Hans Riemer all support eliminating the turnback practice.
Here is the full MHP statement:
My name is Amee Bearne, Neighborhood and Policy Coordinator for Montgomery Housing Partnership, or MHP. MHP is the largest affordable housing developer in Montgomery County, ensuring that people of all incomes can find affordable, quality housing. I am here tonight to testify in support of additional funding to end turnbacks at Silver Spring Metro station, which currently impact the three stations, and their communities, to the north.
There are many reasons why people choose to live in communities like Forest Glen, Wheaton, Glenmont. They’re nice places to live. They are also home to much more diverse housing price options, allowing residents greater chance to find appropriate or more affordable housing than what can be found in and south or west of the Silver Spring central business district.
In MHP’s portfolio, we have 352 units within ½ mile of either Forest Glen or Wheaton stations, and another 276 units within a 15-minute drive of Glenmont Station.
That means over 1,000 residents live in MHP properties within ½ mile of the Forest Glen or Wheaton stations. Another 700 residents living in MHP properties within quick driving distance to Glenmont Station.
Nearly all our residents make less than 60% of the Area Median Income, many as low as 30% of the AMI. Already many of them rely on Metro to access work and educational opportunities. Where they already have to wake up earlier to be to work or class on time, with the turnbacks their commutes are significantly extended, ensuring that our residents’ quality of life (time that could be spent with their families, or out in their communities) is now being eaten by platform waits.
MHP is not only worried about our residents, but the many other community members that we work with regularly who we know rely on Metro and must live in these areas due to income constraints. There are significant social and economic equity impacts surrounding this policy, particularly on this side of the Red Line, and we urge WMATA to acknowledge these residents by eliminating the disruptive turnbacks at Silver Spring station.
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Montgomery County should actively seek to preserve affordable housing as it moves forward with the Veirs Mill Corridor master plan, according to Montgomery Housing Partnership.
In public testimony before the Montgomery County Council, MHP Senior Project Manager and Legal Counsel Stephanie Roodman generally praised the plan, which was initiated by the Maryland County Planning Board. MHP is the developer of Halpine Hamlet Apartments, a community of 67 primarily affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments near Twinbrook Parkway.
But Roodman expressed some concerns about the potential for redevelopment to force out affordable housing options. “To the extent that the sector plan is incentivizing redevelopment along this corridor, the plan should ensure a one-for-one replacement of the potential loss of market-rate affordable housing.” She said, “This can best be done by the county aggressively seeking to identify county-owned sites where affordable housing can be located in this plan.”
The updated corridor plan is intended to:
- Guide future land uses along the Veirs Mill Road corridor from Wheaton to Rockville.
- Improve the compatibility between the land uses adjacent to Veirs Mill Road and the future bus rapid transit corridor.
- Improve pedestrian and bicycle accessibility, connectivity and safety within the plan area.
- Redevelop at strategic locations to provide more walkable, neighborhood-serving development.
- Apply a comprehensive streetscape design and opportunities for placemaking within the corridor.
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The MHP team traveled to meet with legislators in Annapolis for Community Development Day 2019, sponsored by Community Development Network of Maryland. It’s an important opportunity to meet with state legislators to seek support for community development, affordable housing funding, and economic initiatives that help communities served by MHP. It’s also a chance to say thank you to committed supporters.
Top priorities include: 1) dedication of excess money from the Unclaimed Property Fund to the Community Development Fund; and 2) full funding of the Maryland Community Legacy program at a level of $8 million. The Community Legacy program provides local governments and community development organizations with funding for essential projects aimed at strengthening communities through activities such as business retention and attraction, encouraging homeownership and commercial revitalization.
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Oscar, an MHP resident and a senior in high school, advocated for continued support for affordable housing in testimony at a budget forum convened by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich to gather input on fiscal 2020 funding priorities. County Executive Elrich praised Oscar for his advocacy and service to the community, noting that he is “a big fan” of the work that MHP is doing to preserve and expand access to affordable housing.
Here is Oscar’s statement:
“Good evening, everyone. My name is Oscar. I am a senior at Northwood High School. This summer I hope to continue with college. You might think that I am here to advocate for schools, but I am here because having a safe home that I can afford gives me the security and stability to continue contributing to my community.
I am a McDonald’s employee who works 5 days a week. In my free time, I am a volunteer in my community. I live in Montgomery Housing Partnership’s Amherst Apartments in Wheaton. Being able to live in Amherst has given me and my sister the security of an affordable, safe home.
Everyone deserves to have the same opportunity that I had to live in a safe and affordable place. Thank you for supporting programs that give me and other people like me a place to call home.”
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Through an MHP collaboration with the Washington Conservatory of Music, students at MHP Community Life enrichment programs are taking music and movement classes and are learning to play the violin.
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Join us for a one-hour tour of our mission at MHP properties in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Wheaton. Get a schedule and learn more here.
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MHP is opposing “public charge” regulation changes proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that could damage immigrant communities by spreading confusion and prompting families not to seek help with health care, housing, and other needs out of fear.
Under the proposal, if authorities determine an individual is “likely to become a public charge,” they may deny that person’s application for lawful permanent residence or their entry into the U.S. The new proposal would broaden the programs that the federal government would consider in making public charge determinations to include health, nutrition, and housing programs that previously were not considered. The proposed rule could prevent legal immigrants and families with children from accessing public assistance for affordable housing.
In comments submitted to DHS’ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, MHP President Robert Goldman described some of the negative impacts already being observed in communities served by MHP. “For example, our staff has spoken with parents of U.S.-born citizen children who are reluctant to apply for Medicaid for their sons or daughters out of fear that it could lead to their family being separated down the line. Parents are making difficult, if not impossible, choices that could harm their children’s health based on fear. This rule change will negatively impact the health and well-being of untold number of children, as well as that of the broader community.”
He challenged the stereotype that immigrants come to the United States looking for handouts. “Contrary to the myth that public assistance fosters a dependency on government, we have found that our residents who benefit from government programs want to lift themselves out of poverty. The proposed rule change is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivations for migration. Immigrants don’t aspire to receive public assistance, they aspire to achieve the American Dream: to get an education and create a better life for themselves and their families through hard work.”
The full text of the comments is available here.
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At a recent MHP event, Catherine Leggett, former first lady of Montgomery County, described the security that home brings and the importance of MHP’s mission to make home possible for more than 1,700 area families:
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Watch MHP President Robert Goldman discuss the challenges of expanding access to affordable housing in our region (click on image). He appeared on Montgomery Community Media’s “Montgomery Week in Review” show, and also shared the history of the annual Angels for Children holiday toy drive. Through a partnership with the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce, with generous donations from the community and plenty of volunteers, toys are delivered to hundreds of Wheaton children on Christmas Eve. Check out ways that you can help too!