An affluent Maryland county is facing a revolt over an affordable housing plan that residents are attacking using language that is being denounced as racist and classist.
In a New York Times column published earlier this month, Binyamin Appelbaum talked with residents of Montgomery County who were furious about a proposal to let residents create basement or backyard apartments in an effort to free up more housing.
“This is not about providing affordable housing,” Hessie Harris, a 70-year-old homeowner, told Applebaum. “The goal is to do away with single-family communities. They claim these are going to be in-law suites and then there goes the neighborhood! They could put in flophouses!”
Other residents similarly told Applebaum that the county would soon become home to “backyard trailers” and “boxcars” if the affordable housing proposal came to pass.
And another Montgomery County resident named Katherine C. Gugulis even wrote a letter to the Washington Post that drew condemnation from the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club for using “harmful racial and economic stereotypes that have historically been used to keep our communities segregated.”
In her letter, Gugulis decried affordable housing plans as “a slap in the face to those people who have worked hard to build a comfortable home and neighborhood.”
She also wrote that “just because others flee crime-ridden and poverty-stricken areas doesn’t mean Montgomery County has to be turned into a slum to accommodate them.”