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New program would accelerate housing construction in Spokane

The Building Opportunity and Choices for All program would allow more housing to be built within the next year, according to Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward.

SPOKANE, Wash. — City of Spokane officials announced a proposed pilot program on Thursday to accelerate housing construction in the city.

The Building Opportunity and Choices for All program would allow more housing to be built within the next year, according to Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, Council President Breean Beggs and Council Member Michael Cathcart.

The program is sponsored by Cathcart and City Council Member Betsy Wilkerson.

The one-year pilot program includes:

  • Allowing duplexes and townhouses in all residential neighborhoods
  • Allowing triplexes and fourplexes in targeted areas near transit lines and busier commercial areas
  • This program will continue to require development to fit the context of neighborhoods by matching the scale of its surroundings  
  • Includes basic design standards that will be familiar for developers who have done work in the city before

“We need more housing and greater variety now,” Woodward said in a statement. “Business as usual isn't currently equipped to deliver new construction quickly enough to immediately increase inventory.”

The Building Opportunity and Choices for All program will be briefed at the Public, Infrastructure and Environmental Sustainability Committee meeting with the city council on Monday. The first and final readings will follow in July.

"I strongly support this pilot project, because like the block I live on, it allows more affordable low-intensity housing options on a smaller footprint while preserving the same feel of the older homes in my neighborhood,” Beggs said.

The city expects to make permanent changes to its housing plan and development code at the end of this one-year program.

“Spokane’s working families deserve the opportunity to attain a home in the neighborhood of their choice at a price they can afford,” Cathcart said. “Unfortunately, our dwindling supply and increased demand has left most of them priced out of homeownership and with very little choice in the rental market. Through this small, but mighty change, we can cultivate more homeownership opportunities and more choices that reflect our community’s many diverse lifestyles and affordability levels. The best way to gain wealth and to break the cycle of poverty is by building equity through homeownership.”

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