Snohomish County Council unanimously passes Housing and Behavioral Health Capital Fund

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The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the Housing and Behavioral Health Capital Fund, which is a plan for investments to preserve and build affordable housing and behavioral health facilities.

According to a news release, the Capital Fund was developed by Executive Dave Somers in collaboration with the County Council and community leaders. This strategic plan will preserve and construct emergency housing, permanent supportive housing, and affordable housing, alongside investments in behavioral health facilities.

The approved plan will earmark a substantial investment of approximately $114 million over five years and create 550 new affordable housing and permanent supportive housing units along with 150 units of emergency bridge housing. This investment plan will also expand local behavioral health resources.

“We know the housing crisis is something that impacts our families’ bottom lines and the quality of life of all our residents,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Jared Mead. “This plan is a major commitment from our taxpayers to make a difference and ensure we are keeping people in homes. We know that having more affordable housing options will make our economy stronger, ease burdens for many families, and keep Snohomish County a great place to live.”

The plan aligns with Snohomish County’s effort to limit the number of households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. More than 32 percent of households in the county are currently cost-burdened by housing, including a significant number of renters. It has been estimated that Snohomish County will need 143,182 additional affordable housing units by 2044 to meet demand.

“I am grateful for the partnership with the Snohomish County Council and their work to make a positive impact on our housing crisis,” said Executive Somers. “We know that there are hard-working people at risk of homelessness who will be able to have stable housing because of this plan. We are making progress.”

Notably, Snohomish County will allocate $10 million for the construction of behavioral health facilities, further leveraging more than $3 million from the Chemical Dependency/ Mental Health Sales Tax to sustain ongoing efforts.

“I am proud to champion investments in affordable housing and behavioral health services and voted in favor of these transformational resources. The Executive’s office has followed our agreed-on process with a draft plan, community outreach and now a final business plan. This will be followed by quarterly reports, an annual report and qualitative metrics that were included in the original ordinance. It’s important that we move past any additional administrative burdens and get these resources out into the community as soon as possible,” said Councilmember Megan Dunn. “This funding not only addresses a humanitarian challenge to house our residents with dignity, but also contributes to the health and vitality of our community and economy.”

“It’s crucial that we make affordable housing available in all parts of our county, because the only way for people to heal and thrive is to have a roof over their head and a safe place to call home within their own community,” said Councilmember Strom Peterson. “I am proud to stand with Executive Somers and my County Council colleagues as we authorize this new plan to expand housing and behavioral health resources throughout the county.”

In compliance with State regulations, these new units will be for households and individuals earning below 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). The intended beneficiaries include families with children, those with behavioral health challenges and/or disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, unaccompanied homeless youth, veterans, and seniors.

Snohomish County Human Services engaged with the public to design the plan, including with community members who have lived experience with homelessness, service providers, affordable housing developers, local officials, and others.

The complete Housing and Behavior Health Capital Fund is available for review here.

  1. Well aren’t we using the 300 grand earmarked of low income housing for further exploration of the landmark property? Doesn’t that somewhat tie our hands as to what options we can explore as we go forward? The landmark property sounds like the perfect place for 800 units of various degrees of low income housing with wrap around services on site. It is gonna be great and if we do it right we can get others to pay for the whole thing.

    1. Jim- at the Dec 11th meeting the staff withdrew their recommendation to spend the affordable housing funds on consultants during 2024 for the Landmark 99 project. Several residents protested that during public comments, and behind the scenes some Council Members were questioning the legality of it. Regrettably, the public never got the legal opinion on Dec 11th that they asked for. This issue will come around again in the Spring of ‘24, per Director Tatum.

      1. Ahh thanks for the heads up, what is one to think if that is the reasoning behind the funding for exploration of the project? Well the city is looking for investors and what better partners than the county and the state and the feds. It will be a one of a kind experiment just like the sewer system.. hows that working out? I kind of think I should change my mind about the project and give the proponents just what they ask for. Sometimes the best medicine is to be confronted with your mistakes.

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