In our opinion: Affordable housing should be a top legislative priority

  • Tuesday, November 19, 2019 1:18pm
  • Opinion

Elected officials across Whidbey Island are completing their wish lists for Olympia.

Around this time each year, the local officials enumerate the things that they most want the state Legislature to do in the upcoming session. They meet with local state Senate and House members and talk about their problems.

One issue that is on all the lists and deserves the state’s full attention is affordable housing. It’s not a sexy issue and it’s something that everyone has heard about countless times, but it’s vital to the economy, the environment and to people’s quality of life.

Whidbey Island is a microcosm that exemplifies this statewide problem. Much of the island’s workforce travels to other counties for housing because there are few affordable options on the island. Some are homeless. Those who find places often pay a disproportionate percentage of their income for housing.

The Association of Washington Cities has a priority list that offers more specific ideas. The proposals would allow cities to have more flexibility in addressing the housing issue on a local level. The ideas include additional councilmanic taxing authority for housing and extending and expanding tax programs that incentivize affordable housing.

The focus should be on funding programs that actually construct new affordable and supportive housing. No more money is needed to be spent on studies or salaries of personnel who are supposed to help people find housing that isn’t there.

The Legislature should also fix a new tax credit program for affordable housing that’s unnecessarily complex and set at a level that makes it pretty ineffectual for smaller counties.

Voters in Oak Harbor passed a measure that would increase sales tax by a small amount and raise nearly $1 million a year for street repair, but there’s nothing similar that cities can do to fund workforce housing.

When it comes to priorities, shouldn’t helping to provide people with homes they can afford be as important as having smooth roads?

More in Opinion

In our opinion: You’re not alone if you are irritated by slow drivers

A peculiar quirk of some Whidbey Island drivers is to travel slightly… Continue reading

Sound Off: SPIN Cafe is in urgent need of a new home

SPIN Cafe exists to serve people in need. Today, SPIN itself is… Continue reading

In our opinion: Remove the politics from development permit decisions

A proposal to remove the Oak Harbor City Council from quasi-judicial decisions… Continue reading

Officials share what they’re grateful for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving season, we contacted various elected officials on Whidbey and asked… Continue reading

Sound off: Hoping nation has a reason to be thankful someday

This newspaper asked me to name a few things for which I… Continue reading

In our opinion: Affordable housing should be a top legislative priority

Elected officials across Whidbey Island are completing their wish lists for Olympia.… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Irregularities in posted election results can’t be ignored

Based on precinct results posted on the official elections website for Island… Continue reading

Greatest generation quickly slipping into history

Just before Veterans Day, the last known survivor of the Japanese attack… Continue reading

Editorial: Hizon, Busig and Severns will represent the entire community

It’s ironic that Oak Harbor City Council candidate Michael Crawford claims the… Continue reading

Cartoon for Oct. 9, 2019

Cartoon for Oct. 9, 2019… Continue reading

Cartoon for Oct. 5, 2019

Cartoon for Oct. 5, 2019… Continue reading