Priority for 2017: Still housing

Posted 1/3/17

Who makes the news in Jefferson County? You do. We all do.

So as we head into a new year, it’s important to remember that Jefferson County sets the priorities in Jefferson County.

While there …

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Priority for 2017: Still housing

Posted

Who makes the news in Jefferson County? You do. We all do.

So as we head into a new year, it’s important to remember that Jefferson County sets the priorities in Jefferson County.

While there likely will be a ripple effect of policies made thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., and just down the road in Olympia, it’s important to remember that we have a say in what happens in our backyard.

And that begs the question: What are the pressing issues facing Jefferson County, the City of Port Townsend and we the people who live here?

The lack of affordable housing clearly remains a leftover issue from 2016 that needs to be high on the agenda of city and county officials – and everyone, for that matter.

City Manager David Timmons has been given the task of working with Olympic Community Action Programs

(OlyCAP) and other agencies to identify shovel-ready properties in the city. At one point, there was talk of Jefferson County declaring an emergency, but that didn’t happen, because no clear vision of a project to help solve the problem emerged.

That said, there has been progress. Peninsula Housing Authority’s first five mutual self-help houses are underway. More are expected to be built in 2018. Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County continues to build a few houses each year – and repair existing homes. Bayside Housing Services started operating its housing program in part of the Old Alcohol Plant in Port Hadlock.

Still, the inventory of affordable homes and workforce housing to buy or rent continues to be low because few new homes are being built and older homes are being sold to people who plan to “summer” in them.

City officials last year acknowledged that even some of their new employees were unable to live where they work – in the city – and that included police officers.

We hope public officials continue to focus on options for long-term housing solutions, which no doubt will involve land-use and building regulations and support for infrastructure projects, such as roads and utilities.

There’s is much to look forward to in 2017. And The Leader looks forward to reporting on that progress as the year unfolds.

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