By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
A new action plan aims to find added affordable and available housing options in Lynnwood as the city anticipates significant population growth in the coming years.
“The housing action plan will help us identify targeted strategies to meet Lynnwood’s needs,” explained Ashley Winchell, the City of Lynnwood’s Planning Manager.
Identifying strategies to increase housing diversity, affordability, and access for all income levels, the City of Lynnwood is in the works of developing the housing action plan to address current and future housing needs. The plan is expected to be completed in June of 2021, through a $100,000 grant from the Department of Commerce.
“In the last few years, the cost of housing and the availability of housing has been a topic of discussion in the City of Lynnwood,” said Winchell. “We’ve heard from residents that there are issues in terms of being able to find or afford housing, and from data that shows there is a lack of housing affordable at all levels.”
Housing is considered affordable when it costs no more than 30% of a household’s income, according to the Department of Urban Development. As of 2016, 2 in every 5 households in Lynnwood are cost-burdened- a term used to describe when a household allocates more than 30% of its income towards housing. The team estimates the number to be higher now due to increased housing costs and the impacts of Coronavirus.
The housing action plan will recommend a series of policies to ensure a variety of housing types are available throughout Lynnwood. It will also utilize an equity lens to develop strategies that meet the current and projected housing needs, says Kristen Holdsworth, the city’s Senior Planner.
“It’s important to remember, that while Lynnwood is changing and growing, there’s current needs right now we need to address,” said Holdsworth.
In 2019, 39,600 people lived in approximately 16,350 Lynnwood households. The city is expected to grow to a population of 65,000 living within 26,178 households by 2044.
“Lynnwood is growing and it feels like it’s growing pretty fast,” said Holdsworth.
Lynnwood’s population growth from 2000 to 2014 was below Snohomish County’s 1% growth rate average, the city only experiencing a 0.1% population increase. In the last four years, from 2015-2019, the county’s growth went to 2.0%; Lynnwood’s jumped to 2.2%, exceeding the county’s growth rate.
Not only is the city’s population rising, but Holdsworth says that housing costs are rising faster than residents’ incomes.
Since 2010, Lynnwood home values have increased by 40% when accounting for inflation. Simultaneously, incomes have decreased by 2%. Today, only 20% of residents can afford to pay a median-priced home.
“Housing affordability is a high priority for Lynnwood residents and elected officials,” said a statement on the City of Lynnwood’s housing action plan webpage. “While several housing policies and programs are occurring in the City of Lynnwood, there is a need for an updated coordinated housing strategy.”
For more information about the housing action plan, visit https://www.lynnwoodwa.gov/Services/Development-Business-Services/Planning-Zoning/Ongoing-Planning-Projects/Housing-Action-Plan.