The Vancouver City Council voted Monday to increase the income limits for homeownership projects using Affordable Housing Fund money and the amount of funds these projects can receive, from $50,000 to $75,000. Additionally, it will require all fees for services to be included in gross rent of projects receiving the funds.
Samantha Whitley, housing programs manager for the city of Vancouver, said the goal of the changes is to make homeownership and wealth-building available for more people.
In 2016, Vancouver voters passed a levy to fund affordable housing, homelessness prevention and homeownership, raising $42 million for seven years. This year, voters renewed the levy, which is projected to raise $100 million over 10 years.
Previously, homeownership projects that received Affordable Housing Fund money had to be affordable to people making a maximum of 60 percent of the area’s median income — $47,400 for one person or $67,680 for a family of four in Clark County.
The change means that the income limit will rise to $63,150 for one person or $90,200 for a family of four in Clark County.
“We talk to our partners and in this real estate market, we realized that it’s kind of a burden to have ownership for people at 60 percent (area median income). It’s not sustainable without a really heavy investment,” Whitley said. “It would be a larger public investment to make it affordable to a lower-income family.”
The amount of funds per unit for these projects will rise by $25,000 because the city will fund $75,000 for rental units with the funds.
Lastly, the city is requiring all service costs, such as fees for parking or trash, to be included in gross rent.
“If there are any required additional costs for the tenant to live in a property that’s been funded by affordable housing funds, then those have to be counted in the overall rent amount so that it still remains affordable,” Whitley said.
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