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Four cities get housing study grant

The Washington State Legislature created the program that will benefit Walla Walla, College Place, Waitsburg, and Dayton.

WALLA WALLA, Washington – The cities of Walla Walla, College Place, Waitsburg and Dayton have received a $110,000 grant to develop a regional housing action plan.

“The $110,000 will be utilized for a consultant and public outreach to produce a regional housing action plan that the four cities can implement,” Walla Walla Development Services Director Elizabeth Chamberlain said. “The city of Walla Walla is the entity that will be grant lead.”

Chamberlain said a regional affordable housing action plan can have a greater impact through collaboration and addressing the housing market at a regional level. This plan will include a housing needs assessment for the jurisdictions to determine gaps in housing types available and which housing types the cities should prioritize. The plan also will look at how communities can incentivize more diverse housing types and match housing types to what households can afford.

Public outreach will be a key component of the regional housing action plan, so Chamberlain said future public engagement opportunities will be planned to provide input throughout this process. Coordination with other efforts surrounding affordable housing, such as implementation of the Community Council’s  affordable housing study recommendations, will take place.

“There will be a stakeholder advisory committee that will be established to assist with the review and input on the plan development,” Chamberlain said. “Public outreach meetings probably won’t take place until late summer 2020. There is quite a bit of data collection and assessment that will take place in the beginning of the plan development.”

The Washington State Legislature created this new grant program to help address the housing-affordability crisis throughout the state. Lawmakers sought to encourage cities to select from a detailed list of land-use planning activities and prioritize the creation of affordable, inclusive neighborhoods, especially in areas with frequent transit service and infrastructure that supports added residential capacity.

“This is a great start,” Chamberlain said. “The legislature established $4 million of grants funds available to cities 20,000 and greater in population. Cities less than 20,000 are eligible if partnering on a regional housing action plan which is what we applied for in order to include College Place, Waitsburg and Dayton.”

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