The state of Washington will spend $47 million to support 43 projects designed to add 3,333 units of affordable housing statewide. The measure is needed to address a scarcity of affordable housing in a state that is expected to need 1.1 million new units over the next two decades, officials said.
The funds recently announced by the Washington State Department of Commerce are available via grants under the Connecting Housing to Infrastructure Program (CHIP), which strives to make affordable housing projects more viable by covering the upfront infrastructure costs, including utility connections and linking housing to municipal systems. The program is backed by state lawmakers, with $55.5 million budgeted for grants and deferred loans from 2023 to 2025.
“Addressing the lack of affordable housing in communities all across Washington is crucial to our economy,” Commerce Director Mike Fong said in a statement. “CHIP grants provide vital infrastructure to jump-start construction of units that will serve households most in need.”
CHIP can pay for a suite of housing development upgrades, including paying for onsite water, sewer and stormwater improvements, and picking up the tab for those improvements in the right-of-way and connecting to the development. The program also can reimburse waived system development charges for the project.
State officials said 11 of the projects will encourage home ownership, with many of the projects focused on providing supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing –or at the risk of– homelessness.
The Seattle Office of Housing and King County received the largest share of grants – $16.4 million to support five city and nine county projects. The King County region – which includes Seattle – has the third-largest homeless population nationwide at an estimated 14,149, according to a 2023 study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Other metros receiving awards include Vancouver, Spokane, Tacoma and Walla Walla.
Applications for the $12.7 million available in the next round will open in the fall. Eligibility extends to cities or counties that impose a sales and use tax for affordable housing. Under the program, any new housing development must start construction within 24 months and include at least 25% affordable units at or under 80% area median income.
Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Commerce