RESOURCES AND PARTNERSHIPS
Use of existing sales tax revenue for affordable and supportive housing
Background: Under Chapter 82.14 of Washington state law, cities and counties may qualify to use a small share of the existing state sales taxes that are collected if the funds are used for allowable housing purposes. Several months ago, the City of Edmonds qualified to begin using its share of the funds, which is about $71,000 per year. Snohomish County also qualified to use its share, which is about $1.3 million per year. Under state law, the City can choose to use the housing funds entirely on its own or in partnership with other jurisdictions or agencies. The Edmonds City Council will consider options for how to use these funds in the near future.
Per RCW 82.14.540, use the City of Edmonds’ share of the existing state sales tax that is reserved for affordable housing:
In the short term, to provide rental assistance to low-income households in Edmonds that have been impacted by the coronavirus
In the longer term, to contribute to a regional organization, which could be the County, the Alliance for Housing Affordability (AHA), or a partnership of cities in southwest Snohomish County with the goal of the revenue going toward affordable housing in the sub-region.
County implementation of sales and use tax for housing and related services
Background: A state law was passed last year that allows counties to adopt a 0.1% sales tax for affordable and supportive housing that benefits people earning less than 60% of the area median income.
Policy proposal: Advocate for Snohomish County Council to adopt the optional 0.1% sales tax as allowed by state law to provide affordable and supportive housing for low-income households.
Edmonds-HASCO Interlocal Agreement
Background: The Housing Authority of Snohomish County (“HASCO” for short) is the main housing agency in Snohomish County that receives federal funding to acquire or develop low-income housing. To do so, HASCO must have an agreement with each city in which it operates. Currently, two properties in Edmonds are owned and operated by HASCO. However, the current agreement does not allow HASCO to operate in all areas of Edmonds.
Policy proposal: Execute an interlocal agreement (ILA) with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO) allowing HASCO to operate within Edmonds geographic boundaries.
Develop Community Housing Partnerships
Policy proposal: Edmonds should develop community partners throughout South Snohomish County to create/build non-profit affordable housing options for low/moderate income residents.
Low-income Emergency Repair Program
Emergency home repairs can be an unexpected cost burden for low-income homeowners. For those that are unable to pay for repairs, housing conditions may become unsafe or unlivable. Home repair costs, beyond home insurance coverage, typically can be covered by bank issued Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit issued. However, banks may reject loan applications due to bad credit or lack of income.
Programs that provide emergency home repair grants or loans to low-income homeowners can help mitigate the adverse impacts of these unplanned costs. Emergency home repairs apply to housing conditions that threaten homeowners’ safety, such as failing septic systems, dangerous heating systems or rotten floors.
Policy proposal: Fund a program, or contribute funding to an existing program such as Homage, to assist low-income homeowners with emergency home repairs.
Improved Tenant Protections
Currently in Edmonds, landlords are not required to provide a reason for an eviction of tenants that do not have leases, such as those renting “month-to-month”, through verbal agreements, or at the end of a tenant’s lease term. “Just cause” or “good cause” eviction policies require a landlord to provide a valid business reason for eviction. These just cause business reasons can include: non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, creation of a nuisance, and owner’s intent to occupy or sell the unit, among other examples.
Research shows eviction is one of the leading causes of homelessness. Eviction records make it extremely difficult for prospective renters to qualify for housing, increasing the likelihood that they become or remain homeless. Eviction prevention measures increase housing stability for tenants, preventing displacement and homelessness, ensuring community continuity, and allowing people to stay close to jobs, schools, and services.
Adopt measures to improve residential tenant protections, such as:
Just Cause Eviction Ordinance: limiting the grounds upon which a landlord may evict a tenant to a “just cause” or valid business reason
Prohibiting arbitrary or retaliatory evictions
Prohibiting evictions based upon the tenant’s status as a member of the military, first responder, senior, family member, health care provider, or educator
Prohibiting retaliation and discrimination in lease renewal actions
Adopting penalties for violation and procedures to protect the rights of landlords and tenants