County Executive Pittman Issues Statement on Council’s Refusal to Pass the Essential Worker Housing Access Act

Annapolis, MD (December 18, 2023) - Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman issued the following statement regarding the Anne Arundel County Council’s 4-3 vote against the administration’s Essential Worker Housing Access Act (Bill 78-23). 

“The vote tonight by four members of the Anne Arundel County Council to reject the Essential Worker Housing Access Act was a slap in the face to the large part of our workforce that is priced out of most of the new homes and apartments being built today. That includes educators, public safety employees, nurses, and other essential workers. Anne Arundel County has been leading the way in addressing the housing crisis, but this is an unnecessary step backwards. 

I find it appalling that an inclusionary housing bill more than twenty years in the making, that has been proven to work in Annapolis, across Maryland, in counties all across America, and that is supported by a coalition of labor organizations, civil rights organizations, churches and community groups under the umbrella of Anne Arundel Connecting Together (ACT), neighborhood associations affiliated with Growth Action Network (GAN), and the Anne Arundel County Affordable Housing Coalition would be rejected by four members of the County Council as our housing affordability problem is so clearly reaching crisis levels.

The aggressive campaign by real estate developers to kill this inclusionary housing bill was in my view short-sighted, but, unfortunately, very effective. Their generous campaign contributions and well-targeted lobbying were as effective today as they were twenty years ago. 

During the 2019 session, the Maryland General Assembly authorized Anne Arundel County to ban campaign contributions from developers with applications pending. I had lobbied hard for that authorization because of the history of what I considered unhealthy influence by developers over elected officials. I was told at the time that the Council would not support implementing that ban, so I never asked them to consider the bill.

Tonight’s vote suggests to me that now is the time to implement that ban. I will ask the County Council to do just that in the coming weeks. I also look forward to implementing the campaign finance legislation that allows candidates to run campaigns with some public funds if they forego large contributions. Small dollar candidates in the future will be less dependent on developer funding.

Finally, I will instruct my staff to seek alternative administrative, legislative, and regulatory methods to encourage developers to construct housing that is affordable for the people our economy depends on. It’s what our businesses need for their employees, and it’s the right thing to do.”