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Dueling Bills for Proposed Bethesda Public Housing

Montgomery County Council members Roger Berliner (D-Potomac, Bethesda) and George Leventhal (D-At large) are poised to introduce dueling legislation tomorrow over the fate of a five-bedroom house that has been proposed as public housing next to a leafy Bethesda neighborhood park in the Hillmead area.

Berliner will propose that the house be torn down, and Leventhal wants to fix it up to make it habitable for residents eligible for the county's affordable housing program.

The issue has divided the Hillmead neighborhood, where some residents have complained that efforts to acquire the house and land to expand the park have backfired.

A county report says it could cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix up the house. The county park system spent $2.5 million to acquire the 1.3-acre site after the owner's plans to sell it to a developer fell through.

County officials say the debate in Hillmead is hardly unique, and it highlights the challenge they regularly face as they try to find sites for affordable housing in one of the country's most affluent and expensive counties. Officials estimate that about 1,100 residents are homeless every night in Montgomery County..

By Miranda Spivack  |  April 28, 2008; 1:04 PM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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I think the county overpaid for the house and land. How long was it on the market? Would it have gone for $2.5 million at a public auction? We have to be very careful with spending, especially when the county executive has proposed the largest property tax increase in 20 years. When the word gets out that the county is willing to spend $2.5 million for a house for the MPDU program, for instance, people from around the world will flock here. CNN will pick this up as a news story. 2/3 of the people on the MPDU waiting list are not even residents of Montgomery County.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | April 28, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Are we suprised we have a massive budget gap? 2.5 million for a 1.3 acre lot with a beat-up old house?

In the flush years of 2003-5 this would have just been ignored.

But when the economic tide goes out, we see who's swimming naked. Or rather, swimming stupid.

Posted by: Andrew Frazzle | April 28, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The deal with the house purchase was shady to begin with. It was purchased at what was obviously an excessive price (compared to other homes in the neighborhood) from a powerful, retired college professor. But now that the county owns it, the only costs that matter are how much it will cost to make it habitable and how much it will cost to operate.

Posted by: Ike Watch | April 28, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

More of the same from the Montgomery County Council--spending like there is no tomorrow so that the poor and/or illegal live as well or better or easier than those of us who work everyday and struggle. We're not eligible.

Posted by: mclovin | April 28, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

There IS affordable housing for people who work in Montgomery. It's called Frederick.

Posted by: Hank | April 29, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Everybody thinks we need affordable housing but nobody wants it in her neighborhood.

Posted by: Get real | May 2, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

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