12 June, 2019
Clarksville Landing. Wincopia Farms. Maple Lawn South. Enclave at River Hill. New housing developments are springing up across the region, and there’s not much stopping them.
In response to high housing demand in Howard County, county and state authorities should be encouraging prospective movers to live in older, more established neighborhoods, rather than newly-built developments. Instead, the development lobby is exercising its powerful influence over politics to march blindly towards the goal of building more houses, shopping centers, and parking lots. If more houses must be built, some should be budget-friendly to create equal opportunity for everyone to succeed.
More “McMansions” are a bad idea because they take up the space of at least two smaller single-family homes or four apartments. More families want to live in Howard County, so denser yet more affordable housing arrangements would be better than the sprawling, expensive houses that are frequently being built today.
The government should step up and regulate the cost (and size) of the houses that developers can build en masse. If not, developers will continue to create the most expensive houses possible and sell them for inflated prices. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “a healthy mix of housing options, from market- rate and affordable rental housing, single-family homes, duplexes, as well as developments for seniors, ensures opportunities for all individuals to improve their economic situation and contribute to their communities.” In Central Columbia, action is already being taken on this: affordable apartments are being planned near Robinson Nature Center. However, in Clarksville and other parts of the county, less wealthy residents are regularly priced out of areas by overpriced housing developments.
Making affordable housing would put a damper on the self-reinforcing cycle of demand. Currently, there is too much demand for housing in Maryland, and this is damaging to community (and environmental) stability.
Economic development is only worth the benefits if the social well-being of the citizens is held in high esteem. These housing developments full of massive, unaffordable houses do not encourage a diverse array of residents, but instead make a de facto gated community by pricing out the disadvantaged population.
The social impacts of overpriced neighborhoods are unjustified. With the population booming, housing development must become more responsible and ethical, caring for the wellbeing of residents. We need communities, not just houses.