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Where to find affordable housing in Spokane

Closed waitlists and years-long wait times have many people wondering if there are any affordable housing options for Spokane residents.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The constant increase in buying or renting a home in the Inland Northwest has many people looking to find access to affordable housing. But sadly, trying to find a place that qualifies as “affordable” can be trying.

“We talked to tenants in Spokane that pay 75% to 80% of their monthly income in rent,” Terri Anderson, Director of the Spokane Office of the Tenants Union said. “And that's considered severely rent-burdened.”

Anderson says about 25% of Spokane renters are severely rent-burdened.

“HUD defines affordable housing as paying 30% of your monthly income,” Anderson said. “So, if your rent is 30% or below your monthly income, then you're living in affordable housing. Anything higher than that is no longer affordable.”

In a recent study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the estimated hourly wage for renters in Spokane is $15.15. So, an affordable housing rate would be $788 a month.

According to that same study, fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Spokane is $1,007, which is 89% higher than other fair market rent areas.

To put it simply, Spokane's wages aren't keeping up with the increase in rent. Anderson says there are options for people struggling to pay their rent, but we found those options to be incredibly hard to get.

“You can apply for a housing choice voucher with Spokane Housing Authority but there's a waitlist,” Anderson said.

Housing choice vouchers are for households at or below 50% of the area's median income, which for Spokane means you can't make above $38,550 a year.

However, even if you meet the qualifications, Pamela Parr, executive director of the Spokane Housing Authority says their waitlist for this program has been closed for more than 6 years.

“Our housing choice voucher program was last opened in early 2016,” Parr said. “We opened it for a week. Got about 5000 applications in a week. So I think we're still working with that waiting list, might be able to open it later this year, early next year.”

Catholic Charities housing is also full. They house about 5,000 residents, but they also have an extensive waitlist with just over 1,900 people waiting to get into one of their units. Their lists are open, but the waiting period can be as long as two years.

“Many of the affordable housing units are just full,” Parr said.

WATCH MORE: Spokane Mayor Woodward discusses progress on Trent homeless shelter amid other recommended solutions

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