As the United States confronts a growing homelessness crisis, the state of Washington’s Department of Commerce has earmarked $312.6 million for construction projects focused on affordable housing options throughout the state.
A majority of the funds – $274 million – will support 48 projects that will create 3,443 multifamily and rental housing units. Ten of these projects, funded with $24.3 million, are set aside to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Another 58.6 million will go to seven projects earmarked for the Apple Health & Homes program, a multi-agency effort that pairs healthcare services with housing resources. The projects will create 144 units for program participants and 354 total units of permanent supportive housing. Permanent supportive housing offers long-term housing combined with voluntary services, such as counseling, job training and medical care, tailored to the residents’ needs.
A public-private partnership (P3) between the state’s Department of Transportation and Amazon.com’s Housing Equity Fund will provide $28.8 million for five transit-oriented developments (TODs), which integrate housing with public transportation infrastructure. The initiative will create 1,133 housing units in dense, walkable communities near transit services.
The Commerce Department has also allocated $38.5 million to support 470 first-time homebuyers with low incomes. The program includes new construction, down payment assistance and affordability subsidies.
More than 650,000 people were homeless throughout the United States on a single night in January 2023, marking a 12% increase from the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report.
This rise in homelessness underscores the need for substantial interventions like Washington’s, which is estimated to have over 20,000 homeless people statewide. The state will need to create 1.1 million housing units over the next 20 years to meet housing needs at all income levels, state officials said.
Washington’s efforts are the latest in a series of initiatives across the country focused on combatting the affordable housing crisis. Wisconsin is transforming vacant office spaces into residential units with a $525 million investment in workforce housing. In Texas, Austin’s HOME initiative is revising land development codes to increase housing availability. In Los Angeles, the city is building tiny home villages to provide semi-permanent housing to the homeless.
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Photo courtesy of King County