Regional Housing Strategy

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The Regional Housing Strategy is intended to serve as a “playbook” of regional and local actions to preserve, improve, and expand housing stock in the region. The aim is to make a range of affordable, accessible, healthy, and safe housing choices available to every resident and to promote fair and equal access to housing for all people. The Regional Housing Strategy will help guide and support upcoming local comprehensive plan updates.

The Regional Housing Strategy is intended to serve as a “playbook” of regional and local actions to preserve, improve, and expand housing stock in the region. The aim is to make a range of affordable, accessible, healthy, and safe housing choices available to every resident and to promote fair and equal access to housing for all people. The Regional Housing Strategy will help guide and support upcoming local comprehensive plan updates.

  • Mapping housing that’s affordable to all

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    New database tracks region’s income-restricted housing

    Homes provided by the private market are an integral part of housing in the region. But the private market alone can’t provide housing for all residents.

    Income-restricted units (often also referred to as subsidized units) are made possible with federal, state, and local funding and incentives that ensure long-term rent or income restrictions. They provide affordable housing that the private market can’t.

    There are income-restricted units throughout the region, with most concentrated in the region’s five Metropolitan cities: Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett, and Bremerton.

    A recent inventory of income-restricted units tallied over 83,000 units across the four counties. There are a total of 1.8 million housing units in the region.

    Most income-restricted units (70%) are located in King County. Nearly all of the units (99%) are affordable to households earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). About a quarter of them (23%) are affordable to households earning less than 30% AMI.

    The majority of income-restricted units (58%) are studios or one-bedroom units. Two- and three-bedroom units account for nearly half of all units in Kitsap and Snohomish counties. There is an extremely limited supply (3%) of units with four or more bedrooms.

    Neighborhoods matter for the well-being of families. Moving from lower-opportunity neighborhoods to higher-opportunity neighborhoods has been shown to improve later-life outcomes for children whose families move and may reduce the intergenerational persistence of poverty.

    In addition to looking at the total number and geographic distribution of income-restricted units, PSRC looked at the location of units in relation to access to opportunity and communities at higher risk of displacement.

    The map shows the income-restricted units overlaid on PSRC’s Displacement Risk Mapping index. The index is a tool used to identify what neighborhoods in the region are at higher risk of displacement so policy makers can prevent it from happening in the future.

    Income-Restricted Housing Units 0-80% AMI and Displacement Risk, 2020

    Click to enlarge map

    Overall, there are larger concentrations of income-restricted units in areas of moderate to high risk of displacement than in areas at lower risk of displacement. These income-restricted units are critical to ensure affordable housing options are available so that long-term residents can continue to live in these communities and new residents of all incomes have housing options.

    The need for long-term income-restricted units in moderate and high-risk areas will only increase as public investments, such as the expansion of light rail and bus rapid transit continue into Pierce and Snohomish counties, and high home prices in central places close to jobs push residents farther from jobs, services, and cultural connections.


  • Region two years behind in housing production

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    810,000 more housing units needed by 2050 to keep up with demand

    Jobs and population boomed in the last decade, but housing didn’t keep up.

    For people seeking a place to live, it’s meant more competition for housing, fewer options, and higher costs.

    Prior to 2010, the region built housing at a pace that more than kept up with growth. But the recession hit the building industry hard, and it hasn’t fully recovered.

    New households grew at a faster pace than construction from 2011 to 2016. Since the recession, construction has slowly come back from its decline, but the region is still trying to fill the gap of 40,000 to 50,000 housing units—the equivalent of about two years’ worth of housing production.

    Read more at https://www.psrc.org/whats-happening/blog/region-two-years-behind-housing-production

  • Looking for the missing middle housing

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    Middle housing can be a more affordable route to ownership—where it exists

    “Middle” housing refers to a range of housing types–from duplexes to townhomes to low-rise multifamily developments–that bridge a gap between single-family housing and more intense multifamily housing.

    Middle-density housing can help promote more affordable ownership options, give people greater housing choices and produce densities that support walkable communities.

    Yet this housing option is few and far in between in many communities, hence the term “missing” middle-density housing.

    In this blog post, part two of a series about housing data from the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, we look at the landscape of this housing in the region, whether they’re for sale or rent, and where they’re being built.

    PSRC previously delved into the cost of middle-density housing. In short, while it makes up a relatively small share of the market, this type of housing tends to be more affordable than lower- or high-density ownership options.

    Read more at https://www.psrc.org/whats-happening/blog/looking-missing-middle-housing

  • Making tradeoffs to afford housing

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    'You’re picking between clothes, food, shelter, and childcare'

    PSRC’s new Regional Housing Needs Assessment finds that a household needs to earn about $30 per hour—more than double the minimum wage—to afford a median priced apartment.

    The incomes of many residents are not keeping up.

    Across the region, most lower- and moderate-income renters—households with less than $50,000 annual income—spend more than 30% of their incomes on housing. This disproportionately includes American Indian, Black, and Latinx households who are more likely to be cost-burdened than white households.

    A household is considered cost-burdened if it pays more than 30% in housing expenses and severely cost-burdened if it pays more than 50%.

    Read more at https://www.psrc.org/whats-happening/blog/making-tradeoffs-afford-housing