Housing

Housing is a topic that affects everyone and every business. Ensuring access to housing is one of the fundamental functions of effective planning. In North Bend, 26% of all households spend more than 30% of their income on housing-related costs. Spending more than this proportion of income on housing defines a household as cost burdened according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. This issue is especially pronounced among North Bend renter households, who are more likely than homeowners to spend more than 50% of their income on housing-related costs.  

The state of Washington conducted a survey and Housing Costs, Homelessness, and overall cost of living are the most important problems facing Washington.  In the survey, four times more people rated the cost of housing as a top issue compared to transportation and traffic.  Additionally, 76% of the 6,000 respondents said they were directly impacted or knew someone directly impacted by the cost and availability of housing, and 49% said it was difficult or very difficult to find affordable housing. Two-thirds of respondents believed their communities need more diverse and affordable types of housing. Digging deeper, 58% thought this should include “middle housing,” such as triplexes, in single-family zones if the new units met the zone’s standards.

TopIssues_BarChart

Renters and owners with mortgages in North Bend face different levels of cost burden: according to the 2023 North Bend Housing Needs assessment, while 47% of renters are cost burdened, only 16% of homeowners are. This was evident in the Housing Survey as well, where renters report more difficulty affording and finding suitable housing options. While 4.3% of renter respondents did not pay their last month’s rent on time, only 1.2% of homeowners didn’t pay their mortgage on time. Similarly, homeowners report higher confidence that they will be able to pay upcoming housing costs on time than renters. While 93% of homeowners report high confidence, they will be able to pay their next mortgage on time, only 87% of renters are highly confident they will be able to pay their next rent payment. Twice as many renters indicated moderate confidence in their ability to pay rent on time than homeowners indicated just moderate confidence to pay their mortgages on time.

Affordable Housing

Quality, affordable housing is critical to North Bend’s economic health as well as meeting the housing needs of current and future residents and families. As home and rental prices continue to climb in North Bend and across the Puget Sound region, the need for affordable housing to support local businesses and their workers has become a priority for North Bend’s public and private sector leaders.

Habitat for Humanity

Two important policies approved in 2023 to support the development of more affordable housing are the Economic Development and Housing action plans. These plans share North Bend’s mission, to create a “highly livable town” with a variety of housing types and price ranges. Moreover, the plans include strategies to encourage affordable housing that support businesses and provide critical amenities for North Bend residents.

In addition to these policies, North Bend has implemented several initiatives to bring more affordable housing to the community.

  • Affordable Housing Incentive Toolkit: The toolkit provides incentives to support the construction of housing at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).
    • Affordable Housing Sales Tax: In October 2020, City Council approved an ordinance to increase the total sales tax collected in North Bend and generate an estimated $300,000 annually. These funds can be used to construct or acquire affordable housing for individuals and families.
    • Affordable Housing Sales Tax Credit: City Council elected to participate in the Washington State affordable housing sales tax revenue sharing program, which entitles the City to receive a share of the State’s portion of sales tax for 20 years.
    • Fee Exemption: North Bend can provide an exemption from impact fees, project application fees, and infrastructure connection fees to support the development of affordable housing.
    • Multi-Family Tax Exemption: In March 2023, Council approved an ordinance that provides a property tax exemption for eight or twelve years for a multi-family affordable housing project.
  • River Run Apartments: Utilizing the Multi-Family Tax Exemption, the City worked with developers to provide 28 units at the complex for families making less than 80% AMI.
  • Habitat for Humanity: With a generous donation of land from the estate of George Krsak and construction by Seattle-King County Habitat for Humanity. Tyler Town is a community of seven affordable houses with five sold at 80% of AMI and two sold at 50% AMI.
  • 230 Main Street: In November 2023, City Council approved a purchase and sale agreement for residential property in the heart of downtown. The City intends to work with a developer to construct apartments for families making up to 60% AMI. The housing will provide needed homes to local workers and support downtown businesses.

This is just a start to address the affordable housing needs of local businesses and their workers. The city will continue to explore innovative best practices and utilize and expand available tools to increase affordable housing to achieve the Council’s goal of a “highly livable” community.

Housing Action Plan

In late 2021, the City of North Bend applied for grant funding allocated by the Washington State Department of Commerce and funded through the Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill (E2SHB) 1923. The bill was designed to grant fund municipal research to increase the urban residential capacity in cities by evaluating local housing needs and determining actionable steps municipalities can take to improve housing stock, diversity, and affordability to proactively plan for housing that meets current and future needs.

The City participated in a Snoqualmie Valley Housing Needs Assessment Report which was issued January 10, 2023, a North Bend Housing Needs Assessment which was finalized March 2023, and a community survey in January 2023, with over 500 participants. Interviews, stakeholder meetings and a school drawing contest were also part of the public outreach efforts.

The Planning Commission and City Council held a Workstudy on November 1, 2022, and between December 2022 and May 2023 the Planning Commission discussed the work at four meetings, two of which were Public Hearings.

The 2023 Housing Action Plan (HAP) is a tool kit for increasing housing options and affordability in the community to help achieve its vision of a more vibrant, inclusive, and equitable future. While North Bend seeks to make meaningful changes in the housing market, addressing the broad range of North Bend’s housing needs will also need the continued participation of North Bend’s housing and human service partners. Therefore, the Housing Action Plan complements the City’s collaborations, partnerships, commitments, and plans.

The HAP has broken into two strategies; Adapting to Community Needs and Meeting Housing Needs. Each strategy has multiple goals and actions. Below is a summary.

Strategy A: Adapting to Community Needs (Cultivate governance that provides for North Bend’s future housing, infrastructure, aesthetics, and community needs.)

  • Goal 1 – Foster development that reflects the community’s vision for their city and its housing needs.
    • Create an inventory of short-term rental units.
    • Preserve existing affordable housing units within the City.
    • Encourage affordable housing to support businesses that provide critical amenities serving the needs of North Bend residents.
    • Consider strategy recommendation from the Economic Development Action Plan in support of increasing housing supply and diversity.
    • Consider a subarea plan that fosters a community-supported vision for the downtown housing stock and economy. Consider implementing alongside a non-project environment impact statement.
  • Goal 2 – Ensure infrastructure needs are developed concurrently with new housing.
    • Apply for state and federal grants to fund utility infrastructure projects.
    • Reassess impact fees to ensure they remain an adequate and appropriate source of funding.
    • Consider a rate study to investigate alternative methods for fee structure to fund service extensions without overburdening small development projects.
    • Make strategic infrastructure investments to increase capacity where necessary.
  • Goal 3 – Collaborate with critical partners on housing opportunities.
    • Continue community conversation and collaboration through ongoing community engagement.
    • Prevent displacement of senior and low-income households by marketing incentives and encouraging non-profits to develop affordable housing in the Snoqualmie Region.
    • Consider the feasibility of the development of a master plan for the outlet mall area in cooperation with the property owners.

Strategy B: Meeting Housing Needs. (Ensure that housing matches the needs of the current and future North Bend community.)

  • Goal 1 – Enhance development regulations and market incentives.
    • Strategic marketing of development incentives, support, and resources through the City webpage oriented toward the development community.
    • Consider streamlining the ADU permitting process.
    • Clarify design requirements and streamline permitting for affordable residential housing units. 
  • Goal 2 – Reduce barriers to attainable and affordable housing.
    • Evaluate residentially zoned properties located in annexable areas within the City UGA and options for future growth opportunities.
    • Explore expansion of the multifamily residential tax exemption to 
    • Consider a fee reduction grant program for using the existing affordable housing tax program or state grant programs.
    • Consider a fee reduction grant program for housing-focused redevelopment in the Downtown core.
Home Contest

At the February 15, 2023 North Bend Elementary "Your Home" drawing contest award ceremony, Betsy, a student in Ms. Mitchell’s second grade class, was celebrated as a winner. Betsy was one of 37 second graders at NBE who participated. City staff, civil engineering firm Blueline Group, and Principal Stephanie Shepherd asked students to draw their visions of an ideal home, concentrating on aspects they find most important. Students described their ideal homes as safe, comfortable, happy, and loving, among others.

“We don’t all have the same context of family,” Principal Planner Mike McCarty shared with students. “Some of us have big families and need more room, and some of us have smaller families.”

Betsy’s winning reflection on "Home" has been incorporated into the City’s Housing Action Plan (HAP). 

Project Documents