Commerce awards $4 million to 52 communities to address housing affordability

  • November 12, 2019

Grants will fund housing action plans and city code changes to increase urban residential building capacity and streamline development regulations.

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce announced that 52 cities will receive a total of $4 million to address housing affordability.  The grants may be used to support development of housing action plans, municipal code changes, subarea planning and environmental reviews – actions which are intended to encourage production of more housing and a greater variety of housing types.

“The rising cost of housing is weighing on our economy, burdening struggling families and leaving our most vulnerable people outside,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “These grants will help strengthen communities by helping them plan for more diverse and affordable housing across Washington State.”

Cities and counties planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA) must include a housing element in their comprehensive plans. The GMA housing goal calls for promoting a variety of residential densities and housing types, encouraging the availability of affordable housing for all economic segments of the population, and preservation of existing housing stock. County-wide planning policies must consider the need for affordable housing – and set out a countywide framework for the development of local plans.

The Washington State Legislature created this new grant program to help address the housing affordability crisis throughout the state. Lawmakers sought to encourage cities to select from a detailed list of land use planning activities and prioritize the creation of affordable, inclusive neighborhoods, especially in areas with frequent transit service and infrastructure that supports added residential capacity.

Some communities are electing to work together to create regional housing action plans such as Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, and six south King County communities.  The plans will look at how communities can incentivize more diverse housing types and match housing types to what households can afford.  A regional affordable housing action plan can have greater impact through collaboration and addressing the housing market at a regional level.

For the list of grant recipients and more information about this program, visit Commerce’s Growth Management website.

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Contact: Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, (206) 256-6106

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