New Tax Aims To Boosts Funding for Affordable Housing in Pierce County

Pierce County has embarked on an ambitious plan to address its affordable housing crisis by introducing the Maureen Howard Affordable Housing Sales Tax. Passed in 2023, this new tax is named after a late advocate for the homeless and aims to increase funding for affordable housing significantly. The tax is expected to generate approximately $18.2 million annually, nearly tripling the county's previous investments in affordable housing from $6.3 million in 2023.

New Tax Aims To Boosts Funding for Affordable Housing in Pierce County

Funding and Housing Targets

With the influx of funds from the new sales tax, Pierce County plans to finance the construction, renovation, or acquisition of about 1,700 affordable housing units over the next six years. This translates to roughly 300 units per year.

However, local authorities and experts indicate that this substantial effort will not suffice to meet the ongoing demand. The county's Housing Action Strategy of 2022 found that to accommodate the needs of current and future residents adequately; Pierce County needs to produce over 2,300 units per year of affordable housing at or below 50% of the area median income (AMI) through 2044.

Challenges Beyond Funding



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The challenges of expanding affordable housing in Pierce County extend beyond financial aspects. Bryan Schmid, the county’s affordable housing supervisor, points out several hurdles, including limited developers willing to undertake such projects, contractor availability, rising construction costs, and an increasingly competitive market. These factors complicate the process of rapidly increasing the housing stock to meet the growing demand.

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Tax Impact on Property Owners

The new initiatives are also influencing property taxes across the county. While the average property tax rate has increased moderately, significant tax hikes have been observed in areas where voters approved new levies. For example, regions like the Gig Harbor Peninsula, Fircrest, and Key Peninsula are experiencing noticeable increases in property taxes due to these levies. Conversely, areas like Fife have seen taxes reduced due to the expiration of a school bond.

Looking Ahead

As Pierce County moves forward with its plans, the role of the Assessor-Treasurer’s office remains pivotal in managing the implications of these changes for property owners. With the new tax and its expected impacts, the office continues to offer assistance and information to residents navigating the evolving tax landscape, especially concerning property tax exemptions and valuations.

While the Maureen Howard Affordable Housing Sales Tax marks a significant step forward in tackling the affordable housing shortage in Pierce County, it also highlights the complex, multifaceted challenges of addressing such a critical issue. The county's efforts to expand affordable housing will require sustained funding, strategic planning, and collaboration among various stakeholders to overcome the existing challenges.

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About the Author: Carl Riedel

Carl Riedel is an experienced writer and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) specialist, known for insightful articles that illuminate underreported issues. Passionate about free speech, he expertly transforms public data into compelling narratives, influencing public discourse.