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Patuxent Commons: New Mixed-Income Community Proposed for Cedar Lane and Freetown Road

A new inter-generational, mixed-income 76-unit housing project, to be known as Patuxent Commons, is proposed for the Northeast intersection of Cedar Lane and Freetown Road in Hickory Ridge across the street from the Village Center. The concept for the project was developed by the Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) and its Housing Task Force to help address the housing needs of adults with autism and other disabilities by creating a supportive community for people of all ages, abilities, and incomes.

Proposed Location

The concept includes a mix of affordable and market-rate units with commons spaces and active event programming to facilitate community-building and relational connections. The community will adapt an innovative housing strategy in which individuals and families of different ages, abilities and incomes live alongside one another and commit to being supportive neighbors.

25% (19 units) are set aside for adults with disabilities while the remaining 57 units will be targeted to older adults, families, and younger adults. The development is proposed to be 70% affordable and 30% market rate. The disability units will be targeted to very low income adults, while the other affordable units will be workforce housing. Since adults with disabilities are unlikely to use a personal automobile for transportation; a transit accessible, central location close to amenities and educational and vocational opportunities is important. Accordingly, the proposed site, across the street from the Hickory Ridge Village Center and located at a bus stop on the Columbia RTA bus route, makes this an ideal location for this project.

The project will include a mix of one-bedroom (30 units), two-bedroom (38 units), and three bedroom (8 units) apartments. A minimum of 122 parking spaces (split between an underground parking garage and a surface lot) are proposed. The entrance to the development would be located on Freetown Road across the street from an entrance to the Hickory Ridge Village Center. The project will be 3-stories high and have a long setback from Cedar Lane. Given the hilly landscape of the area, the above-ground portion fronting Cedar Lane will be approximately 30 feet high.

Since the majority of units will be for adults with disabilities and seniors (who are less likely to have children), the developers estimate approximately 25 school-aged students residing in the community. According to current school assignments, these children will attend Clemens Crossing Elementary, Wilde Lake Middle School, and Atholton High School. During a presentation of the project during the Hickory Ridge Village Board Meeting on Tuesday September 29, the developers stated that they intend to keep as many of the existing trees as possible during the construction (as depicted in the renderings below), and work with the County to ensure space is provided for wider sidewalks and bike lanes, as applicable.

The project is being developed by Mission First Housing Development Corporation, a 501(c3) nonprofit developer that owns and manages over 3,500 affordable housing units in the Mid-Atlantic region. They are actively pursuing financing for the development and the timeline for project construction and completion is dependent on obtaining financing.

For more information, see the attached the Fact sheet (attached and copied below) as well as the Patuxent Commons website.

Patuxent Commons Project Fact Sheet
Download PDF • 1.74MB

The Challenge The crisis is real.
In Howard County and across the United States, a growing population of young adults with disabilities is transitioning into adulthood without affordable, accessible housing. In Howard County alone, approximately 600 students with various types of disabilities will transition out of high school in the next five years. When they do, the housing options they need to live lives of independence and fulfillment won’t be waiting for them. They’re simply not here.
This housing crisis is also acutely felt by parents who are concerned for their sons’ and daughters’ futures. In the U.S., over 850,000 people with disabilities live with a caregiver who is 60-years old or older. As more than a million such caregivers age, the lack of options for their adult children with disabilities to live outside of the family home creates enormous anxiety and demands a search for fresh solutions.
Meanwhile, the chronic shortage of affordable housing for low-to-moderate income families in Howard County continues to grow. And a “silver tsunami” of baby-boomers is transforming outdated expectations of retirement and creating demand for new ways of living for older adults.The number of people over the age of 65 in Howard County will double in the next 20 years. Where will they live and what kind of life – and purpose – will they desire?
But it’s more than just a housing problem. Adults with disabilities, along with older adults, experience high than average levels of social isolation and depression. Regardless of age or ability, the opportunity to live with purpose and maintain social connections can be as essential as housing. And a growing body of research demonstrates the importance of social connectedness and supportive relationships to achieving physical and emotional well-being. How can we meet these needs simultaneously?
This combined challenge – a lack of affordable housing options that also encourage social connectedness and community – provides the driving rationale for Patuxent Commons. Our Solution Patuxent Commons is built on a very simple premise: we’re stronger together. The community will adapt an innovative housing strategy in which individuals and families of different ages, abilities and incomes live alongside one another and commit to being supportive neighbors. It will tap the power of inclusive community to build a strong, diverse network of neighbors who are willing to lend one another reciprocal social support.
Variations on this approach can be found in communities across the country serving a variety of populations. Portland, Oregon’s Bridge Meadows brings together former foster youth, their adoptive families, and older adults in a small, mutually-supportive community that’s proven effective at increasing housing stability and enhancing social connectedness. In New Orleans, Bastion applies a similarly innovative approach by leveraging the social capital of neighbors to create a supportive community in which wounded warrior veterans with life-long rehabilitative needs and their families live alongside retired military and civilian volunteers.
At Patuxent Commons, the 76-unit, mixed income community will be comprised of three primary resident groups: adults with disabilities, older adults, and younger adults/families. Residents will take an active role in helping their neighbors in a manner appropriate to their abilities and interests.
Defined values, like inclusivity and independence, are at the heart of the planning of Patuxent Commons, along with a commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities control where and with whom they live. Our concept calls for 25% of the housing units to be set-aside for adults with disabilities, with the balance of units for other residents.
The community is being developed to achieve four primary objectives:
Address housing instability faced by adults with disabilities, older adults, and families in need of affordable housing
Enhance social connectedness through building of relationships and community capacity, and reciprocal sharing of social support by neighbors
Use housing as a springboard to maximize individual potential and facilitate community integration for people of all ages, abilities and incomes
Pioneer a viable, innovative solution to the growing housing crisis facing adults with disabilities that can be adapted elsewhere in Maryland and serve as a model for similar developments throughout the United States
The Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) has taken the lead in conceptualizing Patuxent Commons as a partial solution to the housing crisis facing adults with autism and other disabilities in Howard County. HCAS and its members have provided crucial seed funding and the input needed to bring this initiative forward, evolving it from a promising idea to a viable concept.
But the initiative is bigger than autism or even disability for that matter. Under HCAS’s leadership, a 12-member Task Force, comprised of public and private sector leaders, experts in aging and services, and representatives of the larger disability community, has been established to drive this initiative’s progress. The Task Force has spent the past year engaging initial support for the project and assembling a project prospectus that contains detailed program information, preliminary market research, financial modeling, and architectural design concepts based on a potential location.
A Garden for the Growing of People Columbia is an ideal location for Patuxent Commons, given its many attributes, including public transportation access, vocational and educational opportunities, shopping, medical services and recreational facilities. The fact that Money magazine recently ranked Columbia as the number one place to live in the United States sums up why it’s an ideal home for this concept.
But there’s another reason: James Rouse.
In setting out to create Columbia, the visionary planner and developer Rouse said his goal was to create “A Garden for the Growing of People.” He envisioned a place where people could realize their full potential in neighborhoods where all were welcome. He recognized the need for such a place and saw opportunity where few others did. And he seized it, driven by a commitment to social inclusion and intentional planning that was revolutionary for its time.
The revolution continues. Today, Patuxent Commons, provides an opportunity to expand Rouse’s garden in Columbia with a concept that could be equally transformative in its own way. We’re committed to furthering Rouse’s vision by helping bring together the experienced partners and thoughtful plans needed to realize this ambitious, innovative housing solution.


Jeremy Dommu
Jeremy Dommu
Oct 05, 2020

Alex - First, thanks for commenting on the blog! I'm all too familiar with the families living off Owen Brown who were redistricted out of Clemens. :) And from this experience, I can confidentially state that all HoCo schools are excellent and kids will get a great education no matter what school they are assigned to. This development (given the # of units that would be occupied by older adults and adults with disabilities) is unlikely to yield a significant number of students. The developers estimated a maximum of 25 K-12 students total (so only ~10 to 12 at the elementary level). Further, ES#44 is slated to be built in our area (though still a ways off), so tha…


Alex Smith
Alex Smith
Oct 05, 2020

With Clemens Crossing Elementary already over capacity and especially since we redistricted a ton of families off owen brown to another school. It hardly seems fair to build more high density units forcing more families into redistricting. I get that this project has a great mission statement. It should be built, just in a different neighborhood with an undercapacity school. No neighbor or family should be booted out of their neighborhood school because a developer wants to build apartments. If anything, of capacity opens up at Clemens, they should bring those families off Owen Brown back, it's the right thing to do.


This kind of Village project should be a role model, and its what Columbia & the Rouse vision is all about.👍 Thanks for making this available to all in the area & not just HR Village residents.

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