The lively Tri-Area is one place in Jefferson County where things are really happening, thanks to community-minded people and entrepreneurs who put their hearts into it. And now, it’s even got a newspaper!
With its mix of modestly-priced homes, apartments, mobile homes, and rental homes, Tri-Area has long given good housing value. No wonder so many folks choose to live there.
The economic recovery has been good for the Tri-Area and for Jefferson County, but it has also presented a challenge: high demand and low supply in the housing market. If you’re selling, it’s great. If you’re buying or renting, rising prices and rents are not good news. And that has an impact on the community.
As a Jefferson County teacher for 35 years, I saw a lot of young families working through their housing challenges. I don’t think it’s ever been tougher for them than it is today. Children need stable housin to have a chance at success in school and life.
It’s also tough on low-income seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and others who struggle to make the rent or house payments.
We try, but we just aren’t keeping up with the growing need. We have some housing options in the Tri-Area. Bayside Housing has transitional housing at the Old Alcohol Plant. Garden Court and South Seven in Port Hadlock provide low-income housing.
This is a challenge we can meet by passing Proposition 1 and creating the Jefferson County Home Opportunity Fund. This measure will be on the November 7 ballot.
Shouldn’t people who live and work in Jefferson County have the opportunity to live in safe, stable homes they can afford?
What’s Prop 1?
With voter approval of Proposition 1, we can create the Home Opportunity Fund.
This county fund will provide grants and loans to capable organizations that can create and preserve housing throughout Jefferson County, housing that will remain affordable to low- and very low-income households for forty years or more.
The fund is supported by a seven-year property tax levy of 36 cents per thousand assessed value.
The owner of a home assessed at $300,000 (above average) would owe $108 a year, or $9 a month. The measure sunsets in seven years.
This will be a burden on all of us, but, as one low-income taxpayer said, “I don’t mind paying a little more to give someone else the help I got to live in stable housing.”
Who else does this?
Since passing a measure like this five years ago, Bellingham has received $12 million in local revenue and additional commitments of $63 million in matching grants and other funding. They’re building hundreds of homes for those who need them most.
This is the power of leveraging. It’s been a long time since we were able to get the kinds of grants that built Garden Court and South Seven. Passing Prop 1 is our opportunity to be competitive for grants.
Who will build what?
The county will not build or manage housing. Capable organizations will compete for funding to build and manage housing … or for renovating existing homes.
Organizations won’t apply for funds until 2018, but some told us what they’ve been thinking about.
OlyCAP would like to build out South Seven in Port Hadlock with fourteen additional homes. They have land, plans, and septic approval. They’d also like to see if they can do something with the Brinnon Community Center.
Peninsula Housing Authority is interested in expanding Garden Court in Port Hadlock.
Sarge’s Place provides housing to veterans in Clallam County, and they’re very interested in building in Jefferson.
Peninsula Housing Authority and OlyCAP are also interested in building some multi-family homes somewhere in the county.
Who’ll keep an eye on things?
To assure that these public funds are well-handled, the Board of County Commissioners will adopt a Financing Plan and create a volunteer citizen Fund Board to oversee its administration.
The Fund Board will evaluate the proposals. It will be their job to make sure that we get the most bang for our bucks, that the proposals meet our needs, that the organizations have what it takes to see the project through, and, that they have a business plan that pencils out for forty years or more.
Low- and very-low income households will pay 30% of their income in rent for this housing. The fund will provide no rent subsidies.
According to HUD figures, a very low-income couple has income of up to about $26K a year. Most of the housing will be for them. A low-income couple has income of up to about $41K a year.
Homes Now: We are the citizens’ committee campaigning to pass this measure. You can learn a lot more at our website or the county’s website.
Passage of Prop 1 is supported by Habitat, OlyCAP, Bayside Housing, Sarge’s Place, the Economic Development Council (Team Jefferson), Peninsula Housing Authority, COAST, and many more. They see that Prop 1 is just what need to give our neighbors the stable housing that can change their lives for the better.
We’ll be at the Tri-Area Community Center on Monday, October 2 at 6:30 pm with a presentation and a chance to learn more about Prop 1 and the Home Opportunity Fund.
by Bruce Cowan, Homes Now
In touch, in-depth, independent.
The Tri-Area Times is a local independent news source for Port Hadlock, Chimacum, Irondale & surrounding communities.
Tel: (360) 328-1217
Jefferson County Quick Links