Christina Autin
(240) 528-4887
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Kensington, MD. Wednesday, February 6, 2019. On Wednesday, February 6, 2019 the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County (HOC) held its monthly Commission meeting with a public community forum.

Opening the meeting, Commission Chair Jackie Simon reiterated HOC’s support for memorialization of the former Moses Cemetery on River Road. “We reaffirm our commitment to working with the Church and other stakeholders such as the Parks Department, prospective owner of a parcel that was also once part of the Moses Cemetery, and we know that they too support and intend to memorialize the cemetery. We strongly believe that the path forward, should be a unified one.”

“HOC supports memorialization and we are hopeful that we can work collaboratively to move the dialogue forward,” said Commission Vice Chair Rick Nelson. “The sooner we can return to a discourse that acknowledges our common ground, the sooner we can move forward with developing a plan to memorialize Moses Cemetery and the community’s rich and diverse history.”

During the community forum, 11 individuals spoke in support of the Macedonia Baptist Church extending the community forum to nearly one hour of the two hours allotted for the Commission’s affordable housing agenda. The Commission asserted that it is not and has never been HOC’s objective to have people removed from Commission meetings in response to protests. However, as protesters continued to disrupt the meeting, HOC requested they be removed from the room by County Police after completion of the community forum and in order to conduct agency business. Upon removal from the meeting, two individuals were cited for trespass and release.

On January 30, 2019, Executive Director Stacy Spann sent a letter to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich requesting he convene a meeting of all known stakeholders to discuss memorialization of the former Moses Cemetery in Westbard. That letter was provided to several stakeholders, including the Macedonia Baptist Church. A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

At HOC’s November 2018 Commission Meeting, County Executive Elrich expressed a desire to bring stakeholders to the table in order to make meaningful progress on the issue. The Macedonia Baptist Church has requested that HOC turn over parcel 175 so the church can build a museum. Parcel 175 provides Westwood Tower residents’ only access to building parking and HOC does not propose turning over the parcel. However, HOC strongly believes there are range of viable options for memorialization including the park and memorial currently proposed within the Westbard Sector Plan approved by the County Council.

HOC looks forward to continuing the discussion with the Macedonia Baptist Church and all stakeholders toward a collaborative solution that honors the history of this community and enables HOC to continue its work and mission as Housers, to provide, expand and preserve affordable housing within Montgomery County.


About the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County (HOC) 
The mission of the Housing Opportunities Commission is to provide affordable housing and supportive housing services that enhance the lives of low- and moderate-income families and individuals throughout Montgomery County, Maryland so that:

  • No one in Montgomery County lives in substandard housing;
  • We strengthen families and communities as good neighbors;
  • We establish an efficient and productive environment that fosters trust, open communication and mutual respect; and
  • We work with advocates, providers and community members to maintain support for all the work of the Commission.

To accomplish these goals, HOC focuses on three things: getting people housed, keeping people housed, and helping customers reach their fullest potential. HOC provides affordable housing resources to more than 16,000 Montgomery County residents, owns nearly 8,000 rental units, and provides assistance to more than 7,200 low-income households – many of whom are elderly and persons with disabilities – through the Housing Choice Voucher program.

HOC’s History with Westwood Tower
In 1997, as part of its mission to provide affordable housing throughout Montgomery County, HOC signed a lease with an option to purchase the Westwood Tower property in the 20th year of the lease. In January 2018, HOC completed the acquisition of Westwood Tower.

The Commission will continue operating Westwood Tower in its current state and has no plans for development at this time. Westwood Tower is a mixed-income property home to 212 households and provides affordable housing for families who earn 50% of the Area Median Income and below. Increasing affordability at this property ensures these and other families can continue to enjoy the excellent schools, jobs and recreational opportunities the Westbard community has to offer.