Planning for Housing

The Planning for Housing page contains information on grants, guidance, and links to other housing pages. 

photo of affordable housing development

Growth Management Housing Links

Housing News

Housing-Related Grants

Connecting Housing to Infrastructure Program

The Connection Housing to Infrastructure Program (CHIP), was created with $43.6 million in federal and state capital funds to fund sewer, water or stormwater improvements and/or waived system development charges for new affordable housing projects. This includes three completed rounds of applications and funding. Click on the following links to read the press releases for our round one, round two and round three awards. The applicant must be a city, county or public utility district in partnership with an affordable housing project, and must meet the following requirements:

  • The city or county must have imposed a sales and use tax for affordable housing.
  • The new housing development must include at least 25% affordable units, which must have a strong probability of serving the target group for at least 25 years.
  • Affordable housing must begin construction within 24 months of the grant award. Federal funds must be obligated by December 2024 and expended by December 2026; state funds have a tighter timeline.
  • Where applicable, the extension for new drinking water, wastewater or stormwater connections must be consistent with the approved comprehensive plans under the growth management act and must be within the established boundaries of the urban growth area.

Housing Action Plan Grants

In the 2021-2023 biennium, $5 million in funding was provided to cities planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA) to adopt new housing action plans (HAPs) or implement actions from adopted HAPs. In November 2021, 44 communities received awards, and in the spring of 2022, an additional 28 communities received awards. This included partial planning communities under the GMA who received small grants to develop housing action plans. Select the link to see a full list of award recipients for the current biennium. In the previous biennium, $5 million in grant funding was also provided to cities planning under the GMA to adopt new HAPs or to adopt certain code changes or subarea plans. The list of 66 cities that received funding in the 2019-2021 grant program is located here

Resources for those looking to adopt a Housing Action Plan or pursue actions specified under RCW 36.70A.600 are available on our Housing EZView website. See the tabs titled “Housing Action Plans” and “HB 1923 Code Changes.”  For information on the HAPI program, please contact Laura.Hodgson@commerce.wa.gov or 360-764-3143.

Transit-Oriented Development and Implementation Grants

The 2021 Legislature appropriated $2.5 million for cities to facilitate transit-oriented development in areas with light rail or fixed rail systems, bus rapid transit, high frequency bus service or park and ride lots. In November 2021, Commerce awarded 11 communities TODI grants of up to $250,000 to review zoning in areas served by transit and to study environmental impacts of planned development in advance to streamline permit processing times. Planning for higher levels of development in these areas will leverage significant investment in public transportation and be an efficient way to absorb the state’s expanding population while minimizing traffic and costly sprawling development. For information on the TODI grants, please contact Mary.Reinbold@commerce.wa.gov or 509-638-5449.

Summary of HB 1923 Grant Program

The Increasing Urban Residential Building Capacity Grant program from the 2019-2021 biennium that was authorized with E2SHB 1923 (laws of 2019) provided close to $5 Million for cities to update their development regulations to accommodate more affordable housing options or develop Housing Action Plans to meet communities specific housing needs. The summary report of the program is now available revealing the results of what was accomplished and lessons learned from the program.

Housing Resources

Housing Guidebooks

Guidance for Updating Your Housing Element (March 2021)
Watch the MRSC webinar
Download the webinar slides here

Guidance for Developing a Housing Action Plan (June 2020)
Watch the MRSC webinar
Download the webinar slides here

Guidance for Developing a Housing Needs Assessment (March 2020)  
Watch the MRSC webinar
Download the webinar slides here

WCRER Housing Data

RCW 36.70A.610 directs the Washington Center for Real Estate Research to provide easy access to housing data for local governments in Washington.  The Housing Market Data Toolkit provides data for all cities over 10,000 population, and for all counties in the state.  This data can be used as a source of information during the preparation of housing needs assessments, developed as part of local comprehensive plans. 

A Peninsula Planners’ Forum on February 22, 2021 shared more information about the housing data and how to use it to understand your community’s housing market. The webinar recording can be accessed here, with information on the Housing Market Data Toolkit starting at 1:16:00 and information on how to use this and other data to determine your community’s housing needs starting at 2:27:10. The PowerPoint presentations for the webinar can be found on the Regional Planners’ Forum webpage, under the “Past Regional Planning Forums” heading.

Housing Memo Available

The Department of Commerce has released its Housing Memo: Issues Affecting Housing Availability and Affordability to the public. The memo addresses barriers to housing production and affordability in Washington, and provides tools aimed at assisting local governments in improving housing affordability. The memo was requested by the 2017 Legislature’s E2SSB 5254 as part of an update to the Buildable Lands program, and is relevant to cities and counties statewide.

GMA Requirements for Planning for Housing

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, planning for and accommodating housing affordable to all economic segments of the population, and preservation of existing housing stock. See the 2021 legislative guidance for new changes to the housing element.

The GMA also set standards such that certain classes of housing and residents are to be treated equally. This includes housing for the disabled (RCW 36.70A.410), family daycare providers RCW (36.70A.450) and manufactured housing (RCW 35.21.684).

Resources:
Growth Management Act Housing Goal – RCW 36.70A.020
Growth Management Act Housing Element – RCW 36.70A.070(2) and WAC 365-196-410
Affordable Housing Incentive Programs – RCW 36.70A.540
EZ View Web Site on Housing Affordability