According to the recently released Affordable Housing Advisory Board (AHAB) Five-Year Housing Advisory Plan, the lack of affordable housing options has reached critical levels in communities throughout Washington.

The AHAB report highlights the need for action, detailing that the state must add over a million new homes within the next 20 years to meet current needs and accommodate for population growth. 

This widely quoted estimate of housing needs was reported last year.

Included in AHAB’s report are housing profiles for each of Washington’s counties. 

Both Grays Harbor and Pacific counties show a drop in the percentage of households experiencing housing cost burden between 2015 and 2021, by 2% and 7% respectively.

Grays Harbor is noted as having a projected annual housing production need of 173, although the area is beating that by 239% with a reported 413 units produced between 2020-2013.

In Pacific, they show a projected need of 58 units produced a year, with the county meeting the need by 227%.

The production of units within the two counties increased dramatically between 2020-2023 as compared to the 2011-2015 and 2016-2019 periods.

The Housing Advisory Plan emphasizes that nearly half of the new homes required in the coming decades must be affordable to households earning less than 50% of area median family income. 

This shortage of affordable housing contributes to homelessness, housing instability, and increasing costs for low- and moderate-income families. 

The Housing Advisory Plan provides a path for understanding the affordable housing crisis and details recommendations for removing barriers to building more affordable homes.

“Washington is among many states that are not producing an adequate and affordable supply of housing for our growing population,” said Paul Trautman, Affordable Housing Advisory Board Chair. “The housing challenges highlighted in this report will take local, state, and federal action to build the more than one million housing units needed across Washington.”

“This report describes the housing challenges resulting from investments in affordable housing not keeping pace with Washington’s dynamic growth,” said Tedd Kelleher, Washington State Department of Commerce Housing Policy Manager. “Implementing the recommendations in this report at the necessary scale is critical to meeting the housing needs of our state.”

The report also notes the rate of homeless persons per 10,000 residents, with Grays Harbor seeing a slight increase in this figure between 2016 and 2022, showing 28 per 10,000. Pacific also showed a slight increase, showing 23 homeless people per 10,0000 residents.

Statewide the rate was listed as 180 per 10,000.

 

Key report recommendations

The plan outlines over 50 recommendations to help address barriers to affordable housing production, including:

  • increasing funding support,
  • streamlining administrative and regulatory processes,
  • supporting construction job training,
  • promoting new types of housing, and
  • supporting homeownership for low- and moderate-income families.

Additionally, it suggests steps to prevent the loss of affordable housing and protect people living in manufactured home communities. The recommendations focus on actions that the Washington State Legislature and the Department of Commerce can take to address the affordable housing shortage.

 

Get the full report (PDF)