What is ‘affordable housing’?
Housing is considered “affordable” if households spend 30 percent of less of their income on a mortgage or rent.
Middle-market housing is what is affordable for households earning $51,845 (the region’s median household income), or about $1,300 a month, if that’s net income.
Key findings in the housing report
- Land price is not the only reason houses cost more in Wenatchee.
- Permit fees are generally within the range of other markets.
- Land availability is a significant challenge, especially larger tracts of land.
- Material prices are higher in Chelan and Douglas counties.
- Labor and contractor shortages contribute to higher profits and inability to respond to market demands.
What does it cost to build a house?
(Single family home, median home values, June 2016)
Wenatchee: $196/square foot (The price per square foot is increasing 7.8% annually)
Yakima: $114/square foot
Spokane: $132/square foot
Tri Cities: $141/square foot
*Data collected in 2016
Framing package pricing
The same materials list was submitted to lumber yards in four cities.
Benton County: $32,869
Land costs (Average land value)
Benton County: $65,000
Permit and utility fees
(single-family home permit and connection fee)
Douglas County: $13,670
East Wenatchee: $13,275
Chelan County: $10,039
West Richland: $9,624
Average : $10,024
Location / Density / Undeveloped land
Wenatchee / 5.2 people/acre in town (2.2 in UGA) / 417
East Wenatchee / 5 people/acre (3.04 in UGA) / 53
Cashmere / 5.16 people/acre (2.15 in UGA) / 69
Chelan / 1 person/acre / 2,089 acres
Entiat / 0.99 people/acre / 656 acres
Median home values/rent prices
(August 2018, Source: Zillow)
Location / Median home value / Median rent
Wenatchee Metro / $300,800 / $1,650
Ellensburg / $260,700 / $1,636
Tri-Cities / $251,400 / $1,500
Yakima / $212,900 / $1,200
Spokane / $193,300 / $1,295
Code change ideas to help increase housing availability
- Reduce off-street parking requirements for multifamily developments.
- Allow driveway to count toward required off-street parking.
- Consider allowing duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in low-density residential zones if they blend into the neighborhood.
- Develop code for zero-lot line style developments that does not require a planned development hearing.
- Reconsider street designs to promote “neighborhoods.”
- Take another look at effectiveness of open space requirements.
Beyond the 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom single family home
Housing types that would be less expensive, increase density
- Big House: Looks like a single family home, but is divided into apartments.
- Cottages: Grouping of small, single family homes with common areas, shared amenities.
- Courtyard: Multiple side-by-side or stacked dwelling units accessed from a courtyard.
- Detached accessory dwelling unit: Small self-contained apartment on same lot as single family home.
- Duplex: Single structure with two dwelling units.
- Fourplex: Single structure with four dwelling units, usually two on found floor and two on upper floor.
- Tiny House: 500-square-foot (or smaller) house.
- Townhomes: Structure with two to eight attached single family homes placed side-by-side.
- Live and Work: Structure with office or retail space on the ground floor with dwelling on second floor or behind.
Our Valley Our Future Housing Solutions Group’s “Where Will We Live” Housing Report recommends:
Task 1: Improving planning and education
- Hire a consultant or establish a committee of professionals to review code and eliminate unnecessary code elements in all jurisdictions.
- Compile and publish annual housing report covering the two counties and all cities, with matrix of homes needed, applications, homes built, buildable lands inventory and limiting factors.
- Encourage Wenatchee Valley College and high schools to offer more trades programs and conduct a marketing campaign promoting the trades as good career options.
- Hire or appoint a liaison (through the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce) to help developers and builders navigate permitting process and connect them with incentives for projects before pre-application, saving city and county staff time. Develop a library of designs and plans, along with a protocol for efficient approval of plans.
- Educate developers about advantages of innovative housing types, beyond the traditional single family dwellings.
- Consider regional land-use planning.
- Make development costs more predictable with better mapping (steep topography and clay soils), regional stormwater systems.
Task 2: Infrastructure and partnerships
- Encourage a Douglas County leadership group to figure out how to work together to provide needed infrastructure.
- Work with PUDs and other utility providers (water, sewer) to front costs for extending services for new housing development, allowing connection fee payments to be phased and other financing tools to reduce initial costs for developers.
- Explore public-private partnerships to bring new housing opportunities in places like downtown.
Task 3: Finding land, buildings and materials
- Look at alternative road types, building materials and innovative designs that cost less.
- Encourage building where space is available — East Wenatchee, Rock Island, Malaga, Entiat, Chelan, Cashmere, Peshastin and Dryden.
- Create a regional downtown association to encourage public-private development in all the downtowns, including managing parking and helping facilitate projects.
- Adjust Urban Growth Areas to open more land for development and provide incentives for property owners already in the UGA to develop land. That would include allowing more creative subdivisions and lot configurations to allow townhomes, cottages, smaller single-family homes and other multi-family options.
Task 4: Broaden housing types
- Explain to developers the advantages of building homes in demand by millennials and active seniors including townhouses, cottage housing, duplexes, fourplexes, multiplexes, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts, modular homes, lofts, tiny houses accessory dwellings and big house multifamily dwellings.
- Encourage East Wenatchee to implement a multifamily tax exemption similar to Wenatchee’s. Encourage state lawmakers to allow smaller cities to be eligible for same tax exemption.
- Educate the housing industry, neighborhood groups and overall community about housing types and options to avoid a “not in my backyard” reaction to proposals.
- Seek changes at state and federal level to make condominiums less risky for builders and encouraging them for entry-level homebuyers.
For details go to wwrld.us/2DpcgFu.