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Discussion: Housing Element

 

The purpose of the Housing Element is to assess future needs for housing in Jefferson County by examining existing residential patterns, demographic trends and projected population growth. Based upon these identified needs, policies are recommended to encourage safe, affordable and decent housing options for all County residents, consistent with the requirements of the Growth Management Act.

These are the goals related to the Housing Element in the Comp Plan:

1. Encourage and support efforts to provide an adequate supply of housing for County residents of all income groups.

2. Promote a variety of affordable housing choices throughout the County through the use of innovative land use practices, development standards, design techniques, and building permit requirements.

3. Cooperate with the appropriate agencies to create programs aimed at conserving and improving the County’s existing housing.

4. Encourage the development of housing for people with special needs.

Topic: Housing Goals

Copy and paste the goal that stands out to you the most. Why is it important to you?

8 Responses

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Barbara Morey almost 6 years ago
  1. Encourage and support efforts to provide an adequate supply of housing for County residents of all income groups. "Permit data for 2014 indicates that the market appears to have recovered to pre-recession levels,...albeit with no readily apparent recovery to date for multi-family housing.... Multi-family development represents the most cost effective means of housing delivery in terms of unit affordability."

" Housing construction should be expected to more clearly out-pace population growth-especially to the extent that average household size continues to decline and/or seasonal units without permanent residents increase as a proportion of the total housing inventory." (PT Housing Element: Inventory and Needs Assessment Dec 31, 2015 p 6,7)

In short, the supply of housing units has not kept pace with the demand for such housing. This creates an increase in cost of rentals which, coupled with the lack of jobs paying living wages in Jefferson County, places existing housing out of the reach of the local workforce and those living below poverty. Even when subsidies (Section8 or VASH-Vets) are available, there are no housing units that are open for rent. "There are only 32 units for every 100 households at 50% or less of the AMI in Jefferson , Clallam, and Kitsap Counties."( p10) As a result, even though we have 147 Section 8 Housing Vouchers per year in Jefferson County, many households have to go out of county to use their vouchers. Similarly, Veterans who had VASH vouchers could find housing only in Forks or out of the county.

In short, there is a lack of housing units, a virtual 0% vacancy rate for existing housing, and a failure to create more housing. This allows housing providers to increase their rental rates well beyond the affordable 30% of income for 59% of renters in Jefferson County. Some professional staff recently hired by agencies in Jefferson County refused the position because they could not obtain local housing at any cost. Those who accepted, often have to commute from Clallam County to PT for their work.

"Also noted will be the need to maintain affordability of the existing inventory--as financing and other program stipulations that required affordability...reach expiration. Much of our HUD funded multi-family housing is reaching the end of the term for which they must provide subsidized/low income housing within their units. These apartments can now be rented at the (inflated) market value rather than being held to an affordability standard.

We have spent 20 years studying and analyzing and inventorying housing and have concluded that we don't have enough housing. Period. We especially don't have enough affordable housing for our workforce and for subsidized housing. It's time to set a goal of creating this housing as rapidly as possible. In the meantime, it is essential that we permit interim housing such as tiny houses, an increased number of ADU's that are limited to providing affordable housing, and an immediate adoption of zoning and permits that include such things as composting toilets, an ability to live in an RV on private property, and the re-purposing of unused public and private property for creating additional housing units-both short term and permanently in our community. For example, the closed 12 acre county campground next to the TriArea Center originally had 30 designated campsites. It has been closed since 2009 and has been designated in 2014 for "repurposing." With water and electricity to the picnic shelter on site and existing toilet waste vaults, even 5 acres of this land could easily be used for 10-15 portable interim tiny housing units, similar in size and function to an RV, (with composting toilets to be emptied into the vaults and pumped out on a regular basis) for 3-10 years until the county defines it's plans for further governmental use. It is also prime property for a community garden and is strategically placed on a bus stop and adjacent to services such as the food bank, WIC, senior meals, AA and medical clinics.

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Barbara Morey almost 6 years ago

As you study ways to create additional affordable housing in PT and Jefferson County, I recommend that you consider tiny houses (150-400 sq ft each) as an interim response to creating housing rapidly to meet the current crisis in lack of available and affordable housing. Such housing could be used for "Permanent Supportive Housing" by agnecies such as JBH and for affordable workforce and low income housing for single individuals or couples, our largest housing population demographic at this time.

Specifically, I would refer you to a study completed in OR and reported at: HUD Paper on Tiny house villages as affordable housing: http://media.wix.com/ugd/bd125b_211036cceef7432aa1e7108f934db279.pdf

"To learn how tiny home villages in Eugene and Springfield—the largest cities in Lane County, Oregon—could be used to increase affordable housing stock, we completed a comprehensive literature review and carried out a set of expert interviews.

"We then evaluated tiny homes by analyzing the feasibility of building tiny home villages, costs and funding streams available.

"We also looked into how to measure the effectiveness of tiny home villages at increasing affordable housing stock.

"In addition, we considered how HUD may be able to help fund tiny houses, if tiny homes will be utilized, and if tiny homes will make an impact on affordable housing stock.

"We found that tiny home villages are a good solution to increase affordable housing stock in Lane County, Oregon. It is also projected that tiny home villages will create communal support, benefiting residents’ likelihood of long-term housing, employment, and contentment."

"Given the stringency of HUD funding, permanent models as opposed to transitional funding are most likely to qualify for streams of funding.

"Recommendations: Tiny homes are a feasible, cost effective option to house Lane County’s homeless and marginally housed populations."


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Barbara Morey almost 6 years ago

If a local government wanted to allow permanent occupancy of tiny homes (<400sq ft) in residential zones as another housing option, it would be relatively straightforward (although not necessarily easy) to address the following issues within a community’s zoning code: • Zones where they would be allowed; • Standards to be applied to tiny home structures (including composting toilets, solar energy, and construction standards) • Minimum dwelling unit size/occupancy/density; and • Eligibility of tiny homes to be Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU).

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Barbara Morey almost 6 years ago
  1. Encourage the development of housing for people with special needs. Jefferson Behavioral Health (JBH), Safe Harbor and the DSHS HEN programs all attempt to provide supported housing for people with disabilities, mental health issues, chronic homelessness, addictions or families experiencing DV. While there are a small number of supported housing units via NW Passage, the Haines St. Cottages, Dove House and the COAST Emergency Winter Shelter, etc. we have limited housing units compared to the need. For example, during this past fiscal year Dove house had to turn away 191 households, including families with children. Please note that on p. 10 of the Dec 31, 2015 PT Housing Element report, the section on Emergency and Transitional Housing Inventory fails to include the January, 2015 Point In Time (PIT) Count of the homeless, which totaled 344 individuals, including adults, children, Vets, "couch surfacing" youth, and seniors-- 3 times the reported "average of 111 individuals from 2012-14," (during which years comprehensive counts were not obtained.) Jefferson County also has the 3rd highest number of homeless veterans in the state behind King and Thurston Counties. We housed a record 110 single individuals at the winter emergency shelter operated by COAST this past winter.

We have a severe need for supported housing for these populations that could be remediated in several ways. 1. We need a full time 24/7 shelter with daily support services from Jefferson Behavioral Health, Safe Harbor, AA, DD and DSHS programs, etc.. These should include resident "life skills coaches"/social workers (as opposed to "caregivers" who do the work for them) to educate participants and assist them in obtaining appropriate services. It should also include some degree of "self governance" by those who use the shelter (as happens in Quixote Village in Olympia) with elected leadership and membership rules. While a nonprofit board called Panza funds and guides the project, the residents of Quixote Village are expected to pay 30 percent of their income toward their housing. 15 of the 29 individuals reported a sum of zero. However, the average annual income for the rest of the residents — including wages, pensions and Social Security payments — is about $3,100 each. I think that the former Union Bank building on Sims Way could be converted to such a year round shelter. It is near DSHS, OlyCap, JBH, Goodwill, QFC and is on a bus stop. It stands vacant right now, but is a large, solid building that, with the addition of a commercial kitchen and showers, could be used for a year round shelter. The various offices could be used as dorm style bedrooms and the shelter could be operated by a non-profit agency such as OlyCap with a full-time live-in manager/social worker. As a permanent supported shelter it could be funded via HUD Home Funding as a locally defined SRO (Capital). HUD CDBG Funding provides Capital funding for infrastructure upgrades and modification of community buildings to meet HUD Quality Standards (HQS). Further, the large rear parking lot could be designated as a "Safe Park" lot for people living in their vehicles or RV's, who could also have access to the social workers and counseling programs offered at the shelter.

  1. The GMA requires the housing element to identify sufficient land/housing units for Living Quarters that serve as group housing for people who are disabled, mentally ill, or in recovery from addictions, especially those who may not have an income sufficient to obtain housing without financial or social support assistance. Independent living skills and life skills coaching (again, as opposed to "caregiving") are necessary elements of such permanent supported housing. Section 8 (housing subsidy)vouchers can be taken out of the general pool and "project based" for a permanent supportive housing project by the local housing authority. This housing must meet HUD HQS. Existing codes allow 5 unrelated adults to live together in a single family dwelling. This code could be re-written to allow "2 unrelated adults per bedroom" in a single family home designated for Group Housing for this population. I propose that, for the long term, a land trust include the purchase of large (4-5 bedroom) single family homes that can be used for supported group housing for clients of JBH, Safe Harbor, Housing and Essential Needs (DSHS) and Vocational Rehab (DVR). Each home could have 24 hour staffing to assist residents with development of independent living skills such as: conflict resolution, grocery shopping and meal preparation, house keeping and laundry, personal hygiene, budgeting and money management, basic household repairs and maintenance, job search and employment skills, and other basic daily living skills. The staffing could be provided jointly by the various non-profit agencies and DVR through their program budgets. The cost of operation can be largely paid for through rent by Section 8 vouchers for residents and by support services such as SNAP, DVR and HEN. For the short term and as an immediate response, it may be possible to lease some of the large houses or purchase them through Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. The LIHTC program provides a tax credit over 10 years to a private investor (or homeowner/landlord) in a low income housing development. The County could also designate such group homes as non-profit properties and reduce or eliminate property taxes on such land and houses, even if they are privately owned and leased to a non-profit by the property owner, with standards similar to those established for low income and seniors.

  2. We need more specialized affordable housing for families such as those that Dove House (DV) was unable to serve this past year. That's 191 households! Or for the Veterans who have VASH vouchers but can't find homes. Or for the disabled who need accessible housing. Or for the chronically homeless with all of their problems. Again, multi-family housing units appear to be the most cost effective means of creating additional affordable housing.

But it must be noted that we must maintain long term affordability of the housing inventory--as existing financing and other program stipulations that required affordability...reach expiration. Much of our HUD funded multi-family housing is reaching the end of the term for which they must provide subsidized/low income housing within their units. These apartments will then be rented at the (inflated) market value rather than being held to an affordability standard. However, new housing units should have a permanent requirement to provide a percentage of their units at "affordable housing rate" as established for Section 8.

It is time to examine both long term and immediate/interim responses to our housing crisis.

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Katy McCoy almost 6 years ago

The first goal is indisputable. We absolutely need to address the housing needs of everyone, but the needs of those with fewer means is most pressing since those with money can usually find their own solutions. The last thing we want to do is loose our historic families, our youth, our farmers, our artisans/trades people, the service sector and so many others that give the peninsula its heart and soul.

The second goal inspires me most. Our housing needs are diverse and it is essential that we create a variety of innovative solutions specific to each need. An example is the low income housing that Jefferson Land Trust is hoping to build for farmworkers on their Chimacum Commons property where aspiring farmers can live while honing their farm skills on adjacent incubator farm plots. This housing is specific and excludes many, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Equally creative ideas should be applied to other housing needs.

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Philip Vogelzang almost 6 years ago

I'd like to focus on #2 - "Promote a variety of affordable housing choices throughout the County through the use of innovative land use practices, development standards, design techniques, and building permit requirements."

And specifically the use of the word "innovative". The costs of treating septic outflows from homes and businesses that are not "on the grid" (nearly everyone who doesn't live in Port Townsend) are very high. I'd like to see the county "innovate" by funding and supporting pilot projects that help figure out new ways to treat septic outflows that cost less and do a better job. I'm thinking specifically of the JLTs Chimacum Commons project, to include housing for farmworkers. What a perfect laboratory for trying out new ways of living lightly on the land and growing healthy locally produced food.

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Scott Freeman over 5 years ago

"... housing for County residents of all income groups." Increasing density in selected areas and supporting solutions like shared septic systems--operated by the County?--could be a promising approach to lower land and development costs, especially for younger and/or lower income residents.

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Scott Freeman over 5 years ago

"... housing for County residents of all income groups." Increasing density in selected areas and supporting solutions like shared septic systems--operated by the County?--could be a promising approach to lower land and development costs, especially for younger and/or lower income residents.

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