Commerce announces historic grant round supporting dozens of affordable housing projects across the state

Largest single award amount for grants and loans will support 40 projects in at least 16 counties

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce announced its largest ever single award amount for grants and loans that support 40 affordable housing projects in at least 16 counties across the state.

  • The Traditional Housing Trust Fund (HTF) awards include 20 multifamily rental unit projects that will create or preserve 1,281 rental units and 10 homeownership projects to build or support 166 homes for people with low incomes.
  • The HTF Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program includes 10 projects for 487 new units for emergency or transitional shelters. This represents the purchase of a cumulative total of 15 buildings to alleviate homeless housing needs immediately.

Awards total nearly $131 million, and support the acquisition and development of over half a billion dollars of housing development.

“These housing investments are absolutely crucial so we can address the many factors and circumstances that prevent people from finding or keeping safe, stable and affordable housing,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Housing is a fundamental necessity for the safety and vitality of families and communities, and I appreciate how quickly Commerce is working to get these projects underway.”

The 2021-23 capital budget Inslee signed this past May included a historic $175 million for the HTF and $120 million for a rapid housing acquisition program. Just this week he unveiled a dramatic supplemental budget proposal to further expand the state’s affordable housing investments.

Photo of WA Low income Housing Institute Martin Way project

The Low Income Housing Institute’s Martin Way project in Olympia is among the multifamily rental projects receiving a Housing Trust Fund award. When complete, it will provide 64 affordable apartment units for seniors and people with disabilities.

The awarded projects are overwhelmingly targeted to households experiencing homelessness and leverage vast amounts of local and private investment. The units created or preserved include:

  • 467 units of affordable housing in rural areas of our state;
  • Over 1,000 units to house people experiencing homelessness;
  • Approximately 700 units for people with chronic mental illness and those in need of permanent supportive housing; and
  • Over 800 units for people and households who are extremely low income (below 30% of area median income).

“The need for housing is among the most urgent priorities we hear about from our local partners in every part of the state,” said Lisa Brown, director of Commerce. “While the specific needs differ from community to community, every region is grappling with homelessness, lack of affordable housing, and unmet supportive housing needs. The historic investments being made by legislators and the governor go a long way, but the scale of the problem requires the additional investments being proposed by the governor.”

Because applications exceeded funding available, Commerce had to place nine projects with 543 affordable or supportive housing units on a waitlist. In these two combined funding rounds, Commerce received 99 applications totaling $385 million. 100% of the Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition projects will be committed with this round.

“Commerce is prepared to put additional funds to use in our community. Unfortunately, the pipeline of affordable housing projects and local needs continues to grow, meaning many projects are being waitlisted or have been declined,” Brown said.

View the award list for each funding round:

You can also view a dashboard summarizing the current funding round and HTF awards since 2015. Washington state’s HTF investments have steadily increased since 2015. In 2015-16, the HTF funded 54 projects for 2,570 units. In the 2019-20 biennium, that increased to 101 projects for 4,178 units.

These investments in affordable housing represent coordination with other state agencies, federal funders, local governments and private business and charitable organizations. Applications were reviewed with the Health Care Authority and Department of Social and Human Services.

In addition to the Traditional HTF and Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition awards, Commerce helps communities around the state build and maintain affordable housing capacity in partnership with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC). Commerce also works to prevent and reduce homelessness through its Office of Family and Adult Homelessness, Office of Supportive Housing, and Office of Homeless Youth.

Upcoming funding opportunities

Commerce reserved state funds for projects also applying to the WSHFC for bond 4% tax credits. The application opened December 16 and awards will be announced in April 2022. A call for applications for funds from the federal HOME and National Housing Trust Fund programs released simultaneously. Find more information about these open funding availabilities on Commerce’s website.

Subscribe to the Housing Trust Fund mailing list to stay up to date.


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