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Affordable Housing in Clallam: Leveraging Policies for Inclusive Development

Policy and Advocacy
Affordable Housing in Clallam: Leveraging Policies for Inclusive Development

As a resident of Clallam County, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles that many of my neighbors face when it comes to finding affordable housing. It’s a problem that has only been exacerbated by the ongoing housing crisis, and it’s one that requires a multifaceted approach to address. That’s why I’m thrilled to share with you the ways in which we can leverage existing policies and programs to create more inclusive and accessible housing options in our community.

The Affordable Housing Challenge in Clallam

To understand the scope of the affordable housing challenge in Clallam, we need to take a closer look at the numbers. According to the Pierce County Housing Action Strategy, the median home price in Clallam County has increased by over 60% in the last five years, far outpacing the growth in median household income. This has priced many families out of the housing market, leaving them with few options for safe, stable, and affordable living.

The situation is even more dire for low-income individuals and households. The Pathways to Housing Security Report found that nearly 40% of renters in Clallam County are considered cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. This leaves little room in the budget for other essential expenses, like food, transportation, and healthcare.

But the challenge goes beyond just the numbers. As I walk through my neighborhood, I see the human consequences of this crisis – families doubling up in small apartments, individuals living in their cars or on the streets, and young people forced to postpone their dreams of homeownership. It’s a heartbreaking reality, and one that we simply cannot ignore.

Leveraging the Growth Management Act for Inclusive Development

Fortunately, we have some powerful tools at our disposal to address the affordable housing crisis in Clallam. One of the most important is the Growth Management Act (GMA), which provides a framework for coordinated land use planning and development across the state.

Under the GMA, local governments like Clallam County are required to develop comprehensive plans that address a range of issues, including housing. These plans must include strategies for increasing the supply of affordable housing and ensuring that it is distributed equitably throughout the community.

One way that Clallam County can leverage the GMA is by adopting inclusionary zoning policies. These policies require developers to set aside a certain percentage of new housing units for low- and moderate-income households, either through set-asides or incentives. This helps to ensure that affordable housing is integrated into new developments, rather than being relegated to isolated or less desirable areas.

Another strategy is to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which are secondary living spaces on a single-family lot. By making it easier for homeowners to build ADUs, we can increase the overall supply of housing while also providing more affordable options for renters and those looking to downsize.

But the GMA isn’t just about land use – it also requires local governments to consider the impact of their policies on vulnerable populations, including low-income residents and communities of color. This means that Clallam County must take a proactive approach to addressing issues of equity and inclusion in its housing strategies.

One way to do this is by partnering with community-based organizations and affordable housing providers to identify and address the specific needs of underserved populations. This could involve targeted outreach and education, as well as the development of specialized housing programs and services.

Tapping into State and Federal Resources

While the GMA provides a strong foundation for affordable housing in Clallam, we can also look to state and federal resources to bolster our efforts. For example, the Washington State Department of Commerce offers a range of funding and technical assistance programs for affordable housing projects, including the Housing Trust Fund and the Multifamily Tax Exemption program.

At the federal level, programs like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) can provide valuable resources for the development and preservation of affordable housing. By leveraging these programs, Clallam County can tap into a wider pool of funding and expertise to support its affordable housing initiatives.

But it’s not just about the money – it’s also about the policies and regulations that shape the housing landscape. That’s why it’s crucial for Clallam County to stay up-to-date on the latest changes to state and federal laws and regulations, and to advocate for policies that support affordable and inclusive housing development.

For example, the 2024 Legislative Session brought about some important changes to the GMA, including new requirements for local governments to address issues of displacement and gentrification. By staying informed and actively participating in the policy-making process, Clallam County can ensure that its affordable housing strategies are aligned with the latest best practices and legal frameworks.

Collaboration and Community Engagement

Of course, none of this can be accomplished in a vacuum. Addressing the affordable housing crisis in Clallam requires a collaborative effort that brings together a wide range of stakeholders, from local government officials and housing providers to community organizations and residents.

One way to foster this collaboration is through the creation of a dedicated affordable housing task force or working group. This group could be responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive, county-wide affordable housing plan, as well as coordinating efforts across different agencies and organizations.

But collaboration isn’t just about the key decision-makers – it’s also about engaging the broader community. By inviting residents to share their experiences, needs, and ideas, Clallam County can ensure that its affordable housing strategies are truly responsive to the unique challenges and opportunities of our local context.

This could involve hosting community forums, conducting surveys, and partnering with local community organizations to reach underrepresented populations. It could also mean exploring creative solutions, such as community land trusts or shared equity models, that empower residents to take an active role in shaping the future of their neighborhoods.

A Vision for Inclusive and Accessible Housing in Clallam

As I reflect on the challenges we face and the opportunities that lie ahead, I can’t help but feel a sense of optimism and determination. Because when I look at the resources and tools available to us – from the Growth Management Act to state and federal funding programs – I see the potential for real and lasting change.

But more than that, I see the faces of my neighbors, the families and individuals who are struggling to find safe, stable, and affordable housing. And I know that if we work together, if we leverage our collective knowledge, resources, and passion, we can create a future where everyone in Clallam has access to the kind of housing that allows them to thrive.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But by staying focused on our goals, by embracing innovation and collaboration, and by putting the needs of our community at the heart of everything we do, I believe that we can build a Clallam County where affordable housing is not just a dream, but a reality.

And that’s a future that I’m proud to be a part of. So let’s get to work, my friends, and let’s create the change that our community deserves.

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