Senior Honors Theses
History Department Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Despite the passing of the 1968 Fair Housing Act and other federal policies which made racial discrimination in housing illegal, residential segregation persisted in more covert ways in the 1970s and beyond. Neighboring the nation’s capital and home to many of its elites, Montgomery County, Maryland, was at the epicenter of debates about the future of fair housing in American suburbs. Housing activists in Montgomery County recognized that in order to expand access to mortgage markets and make housing available to low-income and minority Americans, it was necessary to create affordable housing. A coalition of suburban liberals, led by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) and an organization called Suburban Maryland Fair Housing (SMFH), lobbied for, drafted, and passed the moderately priced dwelling unit (MPDU) law, which mandated that affordable housing be developed and dispersed throughout the county. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the destabilizing effects of inflation and government deregulation of federal housing programs hindered the progressive potential of Montgomery County’s affordable housing policy. This thesis traces the social, economic, and political factors that complicated the task of creating affordable housing. Ultimately, this thesis reveals how local liberalism contended with and evolved in response to county- and national-level pressures.


fair housing, affordable housing, Montgomery County, Maryland, liberalism, localism, inflation, deregulation, housing policy

Included in

History Commons



Date Posted:29 March 2022