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Grant, Adams counties need more housing, Department of Commerce says

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | May 17, 2024 2:00 AM

OLYMPIA — The state of Washington will need to build more than 1 million new residences over the next 20 years to catch up to current demand and accommodate new residents, according to a report released this week by the Washington Department of Commerce.

The Housing Advisory Plan was issued by the Washington State Affordable Housing Advisory Board.

Of those million-plus new dwellings, the report says that almost half will have to be available to people making less than 50% of the median family income.

In Grant County, the supply of housing increased between 2015 and 2023, according to the report, but the construction of middle-income housing stayed about the same, and the construction of multifamily residences went down.

About the same number of households were paying 30% or more of their income on housing between 2015 and 2023. However, the number of rental units available to people making 50% of the median family income increased significantly in 2023 compared to previous years.

As of 2023, about 51% of Hispanic residents in Grant County lived in their own homes. Grant County has enough housing for people making 80% of the median family income, but not enough for people making 50% or less. 

About 54% of Grant County residences were single-family homes in 2020, and about 15% were multifamily facilities with two or more units. 

In Adams County, the report said progress was made between 2015 and 2023 in reducing the number of people paying more than 30% of their income on housing, and the number of residences being built was increasing. But the annual production of middle-income housing is staying about the same, and the annual production of multifamily housing is falling behind demand. 

As of 2023 about 54% of the Hispanic residents of Adams County live in a home they own. But the county doesn’t have enough low-income housing, especially for people with very low incomes. 

As of 2020, about 61% of Adams County’s available housing was single-family homes, with about 15% multifamily residences of two or more units. 

The report estimated Grant County needs about 17,815 more housing units by 2044 to keep up with the estimated demand, while Adams County would need about 1,753 to meet anticipated demand. 

The report estimated Grant County had about 1,488 homeless people, an increase from 2016, and Adams County had about 133 homeless, which is also an increase from 2016.

There is some good news. While more than one-third of all Washington households were spending 30% or more of their income on housing, that’s less than 2015. The supply of rental housing for people with incomes at 50% of median family income or lower increased slightly when compared with 2015.

But the cost of homes for sale went up in almost all Washington counties.

“The rate of total housing production has increased dramatically over the past decade,” it said. “(However), most counties are not producing nearly enough middle and multifamily housing to meet the needs of moderate and low-income households.”

There are a lot of what the report calls affordable housing units in Washington — it counted 155,214 as of 2021. They were concentrated in one section of the state, however — of the total 42% were in King County, and about two-thirds were in the central Puget Sound.

“The availability of affordable housing in many other parts of the state is quite limited,” the report said.

The low to medium-income housing available isn’t enough no matter where it’s located — as of 2019, the report estimated there were more than 700,000 households statewide that made less than 50% of the median family income.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.