Letter to the editor: Homelessness in Edmonds

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(This letter has beeb updated with corrected figures for income levels)

Editor:

We can see from articles in the news that homelessness is a national problem, including Edmonds.

The solution comes from many sources, as homelessness comes from many causes.  Prevention is the most effective means of decreasing homelessness. Low income/affordable housing sites in every community are needed, including Edmonds.  Many citizens in our community are living at below 30 percent of Edmonds Area Median Income (the mid point of family/individual incomes in Edmonds). In 2015, 30 percent of Edmonds AMI was $1,876 per-month. This figure was $1,700 per month as of 2014 data.  Others live at only 30 to 50 percent of that amount

There is a many-year waiting list for Federal HUD Section 8 Housing vouchers, other HUD Assistance, and other State and local programs. Edmonds citizens in these levels of income are desperately trying and failing to maintain or find housing that fits their budgets. The HUD-recommended income ratio going toward housing costs (including utilities) is 30 percent of one’s monthly income. Often these households are holding down minimum wage, or two to three part-time jobs in order to feed, clothe and house their family.

Rising property taxes, apartment and housing rental costs exacerbate the issue. Yet here in Edmonds, except for three low-income senior housing sites (for which there is also a long wait list), there is not one low-income housing site for other families or individuals at the lowest levels of poverty.

The Highway 99 sub-area redevelopment project will provide limited affordable housing to those living at over 50 percent of median income  That is a start,  but it will not provide for those with incomes below 50 percent of median income.

The most productive way to reduce homelessness in Edmonds and elsewhere is to provide affordable housing in Edmonds for those in greatest need.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  It is hopeful that a new Edmonds Housing Commission has been formed, which will begin work to provide solutions to this crisis. Preserving the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, and urging our legislators to pass the Housing Bond Trust are also vital preventive measures.  National funding of housing support is also crucial. Be part of the solution. Support funding for low-income and affordable housing in Edmonds.

Dorothy Trinen

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