The City of Hoquiam last night became the second in the county to sign on to a new plan that will forward some existing sales tax revenue to the county to encourage affordable housing.

Housing Resource Coordinator Cassie Lentz told the council during their meeting last night, “Our hope is that with the maximum amount of the 1406 revenue available we can further leverage that affordable housing pipeline for any nonprofits or developers that are interested in developing affordable housing and have another resource to offer them.”

Earlier this year, the Washington State Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 1406, allowing local jurisdictions to retain a portion of the State sales tax to use for affordable housing. The move does not add a new tax, rather it allows cities and counties to claim more of existing sales tax revenue for the acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing or facilities that provide supportive housing.

Lentz said if the cities agree to forward their share to the county, “we’ll have the option for the county to retain that piece of the city does not choose to retain their portion.” For the City of Hoquiam, that would amount to about $12,000 annually. “Those funds, along with other cities that chose to defer, will be pooled along with the piece that the county can retain and be used to invest in affordable housing projects in our community.”

Lentz said that the funds can be used in many ways to help, “They provide an option for operating costs, which can be used by the nonprofit to subsidize the difference between what the tenants of an affordable housing project can afford to pay and the actual costs of running a project.”

While affordable housing and homeless are different issues, Lentz explained how addressing one affects the other, “Affordable housing is both the single biggest contributor to the increase in homelessness as well as the biggest solution out of homelessness for the clients that we work with.”

The city of Westport has adopted the required ordinances already, Lentz said that Elma and Ocean Shores are also reviewing the proposal. The county plans to get 9 cities in the county onboard and consolidate the funds toward the goal of providing affordable housing.