Hot housing market impacting lower income renters

Peninsula News Network


The local economy may be robust with more buyers than homes to sell. But advocates who help the homeless say its getting harder to find affordable housing, or shelter for people dealing with domestic violence or mental illness.

But there are rays of hope, with local agencies using new funding sources and innovative programs to provide housing.

The Shelter Providers Network held its annual planning forum in Port Angeles Wednesday, analyzing current and future efforts to help the homeless, or even just those struggling to afford shelter in the Peninsula’s super hot housing market.

Pam Teitz, Executive Director of the Clallam County Housing Authority says the federal standard for rents on the Peninsula is just over $570, but she says that doesn’t really reflect the spike in rental prices the past few years. At that rate, a worker needs to make $12 per hour just to cover the rent. And with vacancy rates running as low as 4%, she says there’s few options for lower income residents.

Attendees at Wednesday’s conference discussed efforts that are underway to build more transitional housing, where people can stay as they work to get back on their feet, or for shelters for domestic violence victims. Habitat for Humanity is also expanding its “sweat equity” program into the Forks area to help people build their own homes.

One of the real success stories is on the west side of PA, where several people are putting the finishing touches on several new “self-help” housing units just off 18th Street. Residents and volunteers have already finished the exteriors on half a dozen new homes and are working to finish the houses in the next few weeks.

Teitz says those kinds of programs, helped along with new funding sources, are making a difference.

One of the most sobering figures at the conference was the recent survey that counted more than 1-thousand homeless people in Clallam County, with a full 31% of those found in the West End. Teitz says that’s troubling because the West End only has 15% of the county’s population, so the result indicate a disproportionate number of people in that part of the Peninsula without shelter.



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