About the Measure
The City Council has unanimously decided to ask voters to approve a 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax increase to fund three public housing projects in town that are shovel‑ready and will provide affordable housing to our city’s most populations.
Earlier this year, the State Legislature adopted a new law that allows the city to obtain a portion of the state share of the sales tax for use for affordable housing. The amount of funding available from the state is about $42,655 annually. On August 26, the City Council adopted a resolution to retain this portion of the sales tax. But we can double (to $83,111) the amount we get to keep of the state’s portion of the sales tax if the City also opts-in to its own 1/10 of 1% sales tax. That’s what the City Council has put on the ballot for voters to consider in February.
The total amount of money the City would bring in from the local sales tax measure combined with the retained portion of the state's sales tax would be about $654,000 a year—enough to finance $6.5 million worth of new affordable housing projects. The City Council has selected three housing projects proposed by the Anacortes Housing Authority and the Anacortes Family Center. Both these agencies provide preference to Anacortes residents and have long waiting lists.
The City would contract with these entities to ensure the projects funded by this measure comply with the state law that allows the money to be used to provide housing only to people “whose income is at or below sixty percent of the median income of the county.” Skagit County median household income is $79,100, therefore the housing funded by this proposal would only be available to families whose income is below 60% of that, i.e., $47,460.
The Anacortes Family Center is a private non-profit organization that owns property at 1019 26th Street, adjacent to its existing housing project at 1016 27th Street, on which it proposes to construct 20 apartments in a new four-story building behind the hospital. The building would replicate the 27th Street building’s floorplan except for the addition of a first-floor childcare space to support the residents. The Family Center’s estimated price tag is $4-4.5 million.
The Anacortes Housing Authority is a governmental agency (separate from the city) that owns several housing facilities in Anacortes including the Wilson Hotel, Harbor House, and Bayview Apartments—a total of 183 units housing 350 people that have few other housing options. The AHA recently purchased a lot on 19th Street between Commercial and O Avenues on which they propose to build five townhouses. The AHA’s rough estimated price tag for the project is $1.5-1.65 million.
Finally, the Housing Authority recently purchased the historic Olson Building, on the corner of 3rd Street and Commercial Avenue, with the intent to renovate and restore the building, keep the business spaces along Commercial Avenue, and make 15-20 housing units available to low-income tenants on the second floor. With this funding, we can help ensure the building façade, if not the entirety of the building, is preserved for generations.