Housing Matters


Housing Matters

We all need stability in order to thrive. For many people that stability is tied into finding and maintaining stable housing. The sad fact is that in Richland the ability to find a place to live that won’t break the bank is something which is out of reach for too many residents.

Twenty percent of renters in Richland have to spend over half of their monthly income on rent.

The average cost of a real estate listing in $300,000 but the average earnings of Richland residents is under $70,000/year and more than half of Richland’s citizens make less that $50,000/year.

The bottom line is that most people cannot afford to either rent or buy property in Richland and still have enough money left over to save for their future or a rainy day.

The lack of housing in general and local housing in particular hurts all of us.

It hurts the economy because a potential employer won’t want to locate in Richland if they know employees won’t be able to find a place to live.

It hurts our schools if we can’t attract good educators because a teacher’s wages might be able to keep up with increasing rents and house costs.

It hurts the young families who can’t afford a starter home.

It hurts the young adults trying to live on their own for the first time.

It hurts the older residents who would like to move someplace smaller but realize the market is so expensive now they can’t afford to downsize.

In short, the looming housing crisis hurts.

I think we can rise to the challenge of finding more housing, find more affordable housing and make it attractive to developers to want to build.

I will push to revisit how impact fees are calculated. The current matrix doesn’t provide developers with enough incentive to make higher density, mix-use infill projects attractive. Let’s face it, there is faster money to be made in building single family homes on the outskirts of town, but those developments aren’t generally affordable and with the city practically at the edge of its growth management boundary, the land is running out. It’s time for city council to embrace infill. We can do that by working with developers who will commit to mixed-income/mixed-use high density housing in areas with existing infrastructure.

Developers willing to include units selling/renting at lower cost to create mixed income housing should get some incentive whether it’s streamlined permitting to build a couple extra stories, or a tax break. The relationship between council and developers can be collaborative in the push to find solutions to our housing crunch.

Let’s work together!