Breaking News
More () »

Washington needs to add a million homes by 2044 to keep up with demand, population growth

The Washington Department of Commerce said it's not just about adding more but adding a variety of affordable options.

SPOKANE, Wash. — It's no secret or surprise: Washington needs more places to live.

Though new projections from the Washington State Department of Commerce may come as a shock.

"Little over a million units over the next 20 years," Dave Andersen, the managing director for the Growth Management Program, said.

A million homes, specifically 1.1 million, by 2044. That breaks down to about 50,000 new units every year.

For comparison, Andersen said the state added 45,000 in 2020.

Though it's not just about building more, according to a new law.

"In addition to that, local governments are going to have to plan for and pay special attention to making sure they're planning for a greater variety of different types of housing," Andersen said.

The 2021 Growth Management Act means counties and cities will have to not only provide comprehensive plans on how to meet growing housing demand across Washington state, but they'll also have to factor in affordability.

Historically, most communities focused on apartment complexes or single-family homes, said Anne Fritzel, housing programs manager.

"For many individuals, those are out of reach, they can't afford them," she said. "Housing prices have gone up a lot."

According to the department's calculations, based on census data and the Office of Financial Management’s population projections, more than half those million homes need to be attainable for people at the lowest income levels.

That means more multi-family dwellings like duplexes, tri-plexes, or townhomes, along with extra emergency and permanent supportive housing, or subsidized homes with support services.

"The census has data on peoples' incomes and what they can afford in housing. We know the majority of low-income renters are cost-burdened," Fritzel said.

The cost burden may factor in as counties and cities look to meet the new projections.

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed borrowing $4 billion to construct 24,000 units over the next eight years, as well as to help fund programs to speed up construction.

For now, it is expected most communities will be updating comprehensive plans and regulations to meet the housing needs of each income bracket. Fritzel says there will be guidance from the Department of Commerce, as well as some regular check-ins on progress.

"So every resident in Washington can expect their community to be looking at how they plan and coming forward with proposals for more housing and more affordable housing," she said.

KREM ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube




ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KREM in the Channel Store.

Fire TV: search for "KREM" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email webspokane@krem.com.

Before You Leave, Check This Out