EDMONDS, Wash., May 5, 2021 – A motion was passed, 6-1, at Tuesday’s city council meeting held May 4, for the city of Edmonds to partner with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO).
The inter-local agreement (ILA) establishes HASCO as the city’s official housing authority, allowing the organization the ability to provide additional housing in Edmonds for low-income households, should an opportunity arise.
Executive Director of HASCO, Duane Leonard, presented information about the countrywide agency and its work at the April 20 city council meeting concluding that Edmonds remains a ‘challenging jurisdiction as real estate prices are extremely high’.
The Edmonds-HASCO partnership could focus on collaboration with existing resources and regional partnerships with other organizations or neighboring cities, as well as create the opportunity to explore long-term solutions, according to Leonard’s report.
HASCO currently owns and operates three properties within the city of Edmonds. Two of these serve only seniors, aged 62+ and persons with disabilities, totaling 88 units but there are more than 100 people on the waiting list.
The third property is general income-restricted, with a legal requirement to rent at least half of the units to residents with an income below 80% area median income (AMI), with 60 of those units rented to residents at or below 50% AMI.
The ILA will not change any City codes, zones, densities or other planning-related items. It establishes HASCO as the City’s official housing authority and allows the agency to buy and operate affordable housing properties within Edmonds in accordance with other City requirements, according to the presentation.
The partnership between the City and HASCO aims to promote:
- Research on housing statistics relevant to the City and Snohomish County, as well as information on best practices in affordable housing.
- Coordination on possible regional partnerships with neighboring jurisdictions, non-profit organizations, or other groups as the parties mutually deem appropriate.
- Regular communications between appropriate HASCO and City staff to provide information on existing housing programs available to City residents.
Councilwoman Kristiana Johnson, who was the only nay, voiced her opposition to the agreement.
“I will not be supporting this for the simple reason that it was considered something that would be low hanging fruit from the housing commission. My objection is we have not talked through how we want to address the recommendations. It’s imperative that we, as a group, decide how we want to handle it,” Johnson said.
A need for this ILA was found through recent studies focused on housing development. One conducted by the Edmonds Citizens Housing Commission in January 2021, which passed a 14-1 vote, allowing HASCO to operate within Edmonds geographic boundaries. A second by the Snohomish County Housing Affordability Regional Task Force (HART) in January 2020, which encouraged cities to enter into cooperation agreements with HASCO and Everett Housing Authority, and third the Edmonds Housing Needs Study in 2018 which found ‘Institutional capacity for administering rental assistance is limited.
According to Leonard, HASCO is a more effective solution as the City lacks the capacity to coordinate with existing public housing agencies for rental assistance.