Be part of city’s housing solution
As a voting citizen of Anacortes, I am looking forward to the arrival of my ballot for the special election on Feb. 11.
This measure is for a 1/10 of 1% increase on our retail sales tax, and it will allow two institutions in our town that serve our citizens funding for three different projects.
This is an opportunity for us to be a part of the remedy for moderate housing projects. It is finite. It does not go on forever, and it will not negatively affect those most in need. Please join me in being part of the solution.
Vote Yes 4 Housing on Feb. 11.
Welcoming affordable housing
Voters will want to take care not to confuse the controversial five-story apartment building that is to be built downtown with the three affordable housing buildings that will receive financing from the 0.1% sales tax increase should it pass. Understanding the differences may help determine which way you vote.
In the first case, the five-story building that has raised concerns about its location and height is being built by a private for-profit developer who can charge market rates. City code does not require that this building be affordable, nor do residents need to meet income eligibility.
In the second case, the Anacortes Family Center building has broad support from its neighbors, as does the Anacortes Housing Authority townhouse project at 19th and O Avenue. Both buildings will have enough parking and will be truly affordable for working families, young people starting out and wanting to be part of our community, or low-income seniors on fixed incomes.
Their properties are well kept and will be a welcome addition. The Olson building, prized by many for its history and architecture, will be a critical source of studio apartments, for which there is great need. It too will be truly affordable.
Both agencies are local and not for profit. Residents at all three buildings funded by the sales tax will have strict income eligibility, meaning they can have income of no more than about $47,000 for a family of four, and rent will not exceed 30% of their income. This is affordable housing.
Please vote yes on Feb. 11.
Accept personal economic reality, vote no
Voting “no” on the Housing Tax (Proposition 1) is your best investment in your future. Unless, of course, you like continuously being hit on to pony up more money from sales tax, levies and bonds for more and more subsidized housing.
I’m not being alarmist. In the rollout of this proposition, a city council member stated that this new tax will hardly make “a dent.” Levies and bond issues were mentioned already.
Housing in this special town is expensive because demand exceeds supply. Steadily feeding “the kitty” will never level the housing market enough for lower-income workers to financially compete. An employer lamented to me last week that her workers could not afford to live here. You see, you are to buy housing instead of her raising wages.
I came here from San Diego. Coronado Island and La Jolla were out of reach for me. I understood that and did not seek sympathy, compassionate compensation or municipal mitigation. (I’m happy with my used car and don’t expect someone to help me buy a new one.)
People should buck up to their personal economic reality. It is not the taxpayers’ job to buy people into town; not good for them or you. Remember, the state contribution is your money also.
Tax will fund nonprofit projects
I would like to address some of the differences between the projects that will be funded by the Affordable Housing Sales Tax measure and the Fidalgo Flats apartments being built on 18th Street and O Avenue.
The Affordable Housing Sales Tax measure will fund three projects to be built by two nonprofit organizations, the Anacortes Housing Authority and the Anacortes Family Center. Because both the AHA and the AFC are nonprofits, they can charge less for their units than a for-profit business.
Only households earning 60% or less of the local median family income will qualify for these three projects. Households that qualify will pay no more than 30% of their income for rent — a standard for affordability set by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Anacortes City Council has specified that the funds from the sales tax will go only to the AHA and AFC for these projects, not to for-profit entities. In addition, both the AHA and AFC will sign interlocal agreements with the city clearly stating how the funds will be spent.
The five-story Fidalgo Flats complex is being built by a for-profit company. They are free to charge market rates, which will certainly be higher than the below-market rents charged by the AHA or the AFC. They will not be affordable to those earning less than 60% of the median family income.
Fidalgo Flats will increase the number of rentals and the diversity of our housing stock, but a 600-square-foot unit for $1,400 a month will not be within the reach of income-challenged residents.
Dreams of housing could be a reality
The February ballot measure is a very slightly increase of the sales tax by 1/10th of 1 percent — 10 cents for every $100 spent — to support more affordable housing in Anacortes.
As someone who has in the past worked several jobs to barely scrape the rent together, I understand the importance of affordable housing and that there is a very thin line between being sheltered and not. Many citizens cannot afford to live in the community in which they were raised or work in. This measure will benefit Anacortes by allowing the city to move forward with its well-considered plan — three shovel-ready projects — to help meet the housing needs of residents.
Unlike many communities facing this issue, Anacortes already has a responsive plan to help level the housing playing field and developed a strategy that includes, pending the passage of this measure, the immediate financing and construction of three buildings.
By passing this measure, Anacortes would increase the amount of state and local funding for more affordable housing; about $80,000 each year over the next 20 years. Governments rarely allow other governments to keep their money, further underscoring the criticality of addressing the housing shortage. This measure must be passed in 2020 to keep these state funds.
I have seen first-hand the amazing generosity of this community and view passing this measure as not only yielding a high social return for a slight financial investment, but as yet another demonstration of how this community takes care of its citizens.
Helping our friends, neighbors
The Hendricks family strongly supports the Feb. 11 “Yes4Housing” ballot measure that would allow the Anacortes Family Center and Anacortes Housing Authority to construct severely needed affordable housing projects.
A portion of this measure will allow expansion of the Anacortes Family Center by constructing a planned four-story, 20-apartment building with a main floor childcare center on 26th Street next to current AFC facilities.
It would be made possible in part by the measure that would call for 20 years of tax rebates from the state and an increased sales tax by 1/10th of 1%, which is roughly $20 per family per year.
The AFC owns, operates and staffs its facilities paid 95% by private donations, services and volunteers and has strict housing policies and operating guidelines that are intended to bridge the gap between homelessness and eventual self-sufficiency. The AFC has had numerous success stories over its 10-year history.
Starting in 2009 with the original AFC eight-apartment Emergency Shelter and Family Child Care Center building on 27th Street that offers a safe place for mostly single moms with children in urgent need; to 2017 with the opening of the nine-apartment Transformative Housing Building for families who need more than 90 days to address complex barriers to stability.
In November, it held the opening of the new 20-apartment building to provide quality affordable housing for those who live and work in our community.
Join us in voting yes on the Feb. 11 ballot measure.