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Council split on affordable housing

City awarded $100K grant to prepare and adopt a Housing Action Plan

 

January 29, 2020



The Department of Commerce recently awarded $4 million to 52 communities across the state in an effort to address the affordable housing crisis. Mukilteo was one of those recipients.

Councilmembers voted 4-3 to accept the grant at a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 21.

During the 2019 legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1923 into law. The measure amended the Growth Management Act to encourage local governments to assess housing issues.

Community Development Director David Osaki said the bill encourages local governments to take actions that will increase residential building capacity through the construction of additional affordable and market-rate housing. The legislation also authorized grant funding.

Councilmembers Joe Marine, Anna Rohrbough, and Bob Champion showed reluctance to prepare a Housing Action Plan.

“I’d love to live in Medina, but that’s not affordable for me. I live in Mukilteo,” Marine said. “I know there are people that probably can’t live here, my daughter being one of them. I guess it is all relative, affordable housing, in my opinion.”

Marine expressed concern about potential strings attached to the grant. He said the city is already at 98% build-out and shared fears that the action plan will tear down houses on larger lots and replace them with multiple units.

“This is a fairly aggressive plan the way I look at it,” Champion said. “It is a performance-based plan with billable milestones attached to it.”

Osaki disagreed with the councilmember.

“It is very much a supply-oriented bill. It is basically trying to encourage additional housing,” Osaki said. “We have a housing shortage, and that is contributing to increased rents and housing costs.”

At the annual State of the City address, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said the most affordable place to buy in Mukilteo requires a household income of $127,000 per year. Renters have to make $60,000 per year in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment.

In the last two decades, Gregerson said the cost of median single-family homes has increased by almost 50%. The median household income has risen by only 6.7%, she added.

The City submitted a grant application to prepare a Housing Action Plan in September and was officially awarded the maximum amount of funds in November. Following acceptance of the grant, staff will move forward with hiring a consultant and negotiating a scope of work.

Osaki said all action plans must be adopted by June 30, 2021.

The City of Mukilteo Comprehensive Plan includes affordable housing and economic development goals and policies. Osaki said this grant will support the implementation of these goals and policies. 

 

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