Have you noticed the area is growing? Dumb question most likely.
Yes, it’s obvious the Snoqualmie Valley is growing rapidly, but that trend is not unique to this area. The whole Puget Sound region is growing. And we aren’t the only ones facing growing pains, including traffic, rising home prices, skyrocketing rent.
A Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) report shows almost 300,000 people have moved to the region since 2010 – an 8% jump. And 86,000 people moved here so far this year, which is only the 5th time the region has added 80,000 people in a single year. PSRC expected the region to surpass 4 million people by this summer.
PSRC attributes the region’s robust population growth, and subsequent housing demand, to its booming economy – evidenced by the 279,000 jobs added, a 16% increase, in the Puget Sound area since 2010
Those new jobs and new residents have fueled a growth in housing units, which has been increasing steadily since 2012 – especially multi-family housing units. Seattle has added 7,300 multi-family units just this year alone. Locally, Snoqualmie added a 100-unit townhome complex in 2015, with a two bedroom unit running around $2200/month. Along with nearby Echo Ridge Apartments, the occupancy rate is very high.
And head into Issaquah and multi-family housing construction is booming, with on large complex recently completed near Swedish Hospital and another nearing completing along Gilman Blvd.
It seems a regional supply and demand issue now exists, with the PSRC report showing that for every housing unit added since 2010, the region has added over three jobs. That lag in housing is showing up in skyrocketing home prices and increasing rent. In fact, PSRC says rental costs have increased 43% during that time period. And if you live in Seattle, rent is up even more… 51%.
As the region’s population grows, and families seek more affordable housing outside of the urban job cores, the Snoqualmie Valley continues to grow. Developers keep buying land to build – and it seems until the demand is met, home prices and rents could keep going up.
Is it surprise leaders across the region are calling for more affordable housing? On August 2nd Seattle easily passed a levy to help fund affordable housing. Locally, city leaders have also been pushing to bring affordable housing to Snoqualmie for the past three years.
In May it appeared Imagine Housing’s planned 160-180 unit affordable housing apartment development, slated for the Eagle Pointe neighborhood of Snoqualmie Ridge, was moving forward again. Construction was estimated to start in 2017, with leasing beginning in 2018… but it is delayed again.
According to Mayor Larson, the project is on hold [again] because one of Imagine Housing’s partnering developers “announced plans to consolidate key portions of their business holdings.” The mayor said he was not aware of any possible timeline for the project to get back into the development stage.
For now, and for many residents, finding affordable housing is a real issue. For the near future, shaping how they grow will be a real issue for small cities throughout the Puget Sound region.