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The Spokane City Council passed, 6-1, a sales and use tax that will generate nearly $6M annually for affordable housing. The city has long experienced a housing crisis. With the fall out of the pandemic, that crisis is on its way to a housing emergency. 

The tax will go into effect in April 2021 unless the council identifies another revenue source of $6M annually for the next 20 years. 

The funds will generate up to 100 units of both rental and homeownership annually. While this source will not entirely solve the housing crisis, it is a step in the right direction. 

Spokane has seen skyrocketing home prices to the point that bank qualified buyers above the poverty line have been priced out of the market. Habitat for Humanity has seen a 300% increase in qualified applications for its homeownership program and has nearly 60 families in the pipeline. 

I am incredibly thankful for the leadership of the Spokane City Council for passing this ordinance. While a tax during such economic uncertainty may be unpopular, it amounts to about $25 annually for the average Spokane family. 

I believe that if Spokane isn’t able to bring support to the table, our most vulnerable families and BIPoC communities will suffer the economic downturn the hardest. Having a safe, decent, and affordable home will be a catalyst in bringing back our economy.

But funding affordable housing isn’t the only tool needed. Moving forward, we must concentrate on:

  • Ensuring there is equitable access to credit through expanded down payment assistance and education.
  • Optimizing land-use, so zoning restrictions and land costs don’t prohibit the construction of affordable housing.
  • Ensuring access to, and development of, communities of opportunity by establishing land banks. These resources help to keep families in their homes rather than displacement. 

through shelter, we empower.

Michelle Girardot, CEO

Habitat for Humanity-Spokane