(The Center Square) – Snohomish County is utilizing $114 million from a new revenue source to create 550 new units of affordable housing, plus an additional 150 units of emergency bridge and permanent supportive housing.
The county’s newly released Housing and Behavioral Health Capital Fund is a result of House Bill 1590, which allows for a county to impose a local sales and use tax increase of 0.1%, or one cent for every $10 purchase. The generated revenue goes toward the creation of affordable housing and behavioral health facilities, operations and maintenance of facilities.
The county added that funding will also be available to help expand the number of available behavioral health facilities in the region.
In order for no Snohomish County household to spend more than 30% of their income toward housing, the county estimates it will need 143,182 additional affordable housing units by 2044 to accommodate pent-up demand and this projected growth.
Snohomish and King counties are both tied for the highest hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home in all 39 Washington counties at $39.31. Overall, Washington ranks sixth in the U.S. for the highest housing wage at $31.33.
“Across our region, housing costs have risen astronomically over the last two decades, resulting in displacement and – in the worst circumstances – individuals and families entering street homelessness,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a statement. “That’s why we are using our one-time federal pandemic recovery funding and this new revenue to make significant capital investments to increase our affordable housing and behavioral health capacity.”
The new housing units are intended to serve households with incomes below 60% of the area median income who are living with disabilities, families with children, veterans, seniors, survivors of domestic violence and unaccompanied homeless youth. This is in compliance with state law.
The county council will consider the Housing and Behavioral Health Capital Fund as part of its 2024 budget, which Somers will transmit to the council next week.