Olszewski Promises Affordable Housing, Infrastructure Investment, And More In Inaugural Address
BALTIMORE COUNTY - County Executive Johnny Olszewski delivered his second inaugural address on Monday at Goucher College. Olszewski was joined by members of the County Council and other Baltimore County officials.
In his address, Olszewski reminisced on Baltimore County's struggles in the past decades and promised to "continue our work to reimagine what is possible."
Olszewski touted several successes from his first term and made goals for his subsequent years in office.
One ongoing project Olszewski chose to highlight was affordable housing and Baltimore County's creation of a dedicated DHCD.
"in the midst of a global pandemic that reminded us all just how fragile housing can be, we established the County's first dedicated Department of Housing and Community Development," Olszewski said. "This new department is now uniquely situated to both address historical inequities and foster more inclusive communities."
Baltimore County has entered into an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development that requires the county to build 1,000 new affordable units by 2028. This program is an effort to alleviate dramatically rising housing prices across the county.
The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Baltimore County is approximately $1,400 a month, and median rent rose by nearly 18% during the pandemic.
According to Olszewski, Home prices in Baltimore County have risen nearly five percent in the last quarter alone, 14 percent the previous year, and a staggering 35 percent over the last five years.
One of Olszewski's first priorities will be passing comprehensive housing reform legislation.
"In the coming weeks, we will introduce a foundational legislative package of housing and revitalization reforms—the first of multiple initiatives—that together will realize a bold and broad vision to address key gaps in our housing continuum, from preventing homelessness to expanding opportunities for low-income families, to strengthening pathways to homeownership and support investments in our existing communities."
The second initiative brought up by Olszewski was infrastructure investment to improve the County's aging roads and bridges.
The County Executive said that the population growth in Baltimore County is contributing to the roads "showing signs of their age." With more than 850,000 residents now living in the County, Olszewski says it's time to invest in our infrastructure.
"We will not stop until every community has a world-class school building and park facilities that meet their needs. In the coming years, we will continue investing heavily in our capital infrastructure to ensure we are prepared to meet the evolving needs of our growing County.
Finally, Olszewski concluded his address by saying sustainability and equity will be the primary focus of his administration in all areas of public policy.
"Through all this work, we will never lose sight of our commitments to equity and sustainability. These two foundational values are the lens through which we view every decision because they make our decisions better. By focusing on equity, we chip away at longstanding injustices that plague our communities. By keeping sustainability at the forefront, we ensure a more livable future. From Randallstown to Rocky Point, we remain committed to building more equitable, sustainable communities that our children will be proud to call home."
You can read the full transcript of Olszewski's inaugural address here.