We need to work with our public, private and non-profit partners to help Spokane provide
enough housing for our low-income seniors and other citizens seeking housing stability.
Welcome to part two of my short series about affordable housing.
Read the introduction and first section at www.benstuckart.com.
Housing through Partnerships
Stable housing is a fundamental key to ending homelessness in our community. This requires partnerships from the public sector (all levels of government), the private sector (builders and contractors), and non-profits in our community (organizations like Catholic Charities, Community Frameworks, and SNAP) that shoulder the long-term financial risk of building and managing affordable homes. It is not only our homeless citizens who depend on these partnerships – it includes single mothers working two jobs, seniors who spent 25 years in the Kaiser Plant, and many other low and fixed-income members of our community effectively priced out of housing by this crisis.
Here’s how we can support each partner to help Spokane provide enough housing for our low-income seniors and other citizens with housing vouchers looking for housing stability:
1. The City must actively participate in regional and national city groups like the National League of Cities and the United States Conference of Mayors who lobby the federal government for affordable housing dollars. Our community’s voters also must hold our Congresswoman accountable when she advocates for policies that hurt families in poverty or fails to support adequate funding for critical programs that lead to affordable homes. We need a stable President and an administration that will end the blatant politically motivated efforts to punish urban areas.
2. The 3rd Legislative District team of Senator Billig, Representative Ormsby, and Representative Riccelli are strong leaders for affordable homes in Spokane. Their work helped double the size of the Housing Trust Fund and pass House Bill (HB) 1406 in the last session. HB 1406 is a new sales tax rebate program that allows communities to invest these dollars in building affordable homes. There are non-profits like Community Frameworks, Catholic Charities, and new groups who want to help our community meet the affordable housing need. HB 1406 and the Housing Trust Fund is the key to helping these non-profit partners meet their goals.
3. The lack of affordable homes is a countywide issue. The City, through HB 1406, should lead the partnership with other Spokane County communities to maximize the amount of the sales tax rebate allowable under HB 1406 and should get started on building affordable homes for Spokane County residents immediately. The Spokane City Council must continue setting aside human service funds through the general fund focused on affordable housing.
These three partnerships between governments, non-profits, and the private sector are critical and need strong City leadership, now. We should consider a long-term plan for the creation of a local housing trust fund. Spokane voters in the early 1990’s rejected this idea but our local housing issues and memories of the Great Recession have fundamentally changed housing stability in our community. It may be worth asking voters if the current conditions warrant a revisit of local housing trust fund.
Tomorrow, another strategy and more ideas for helping our community regain control of the housing market crisis that puts all of us at risk.
As always, I want to hear your ideas for solving the housing crisis in our city. Thank you!