Habitat lobbies Capitol for affordable housing funds

Posted 2/14/24

By Kirk Boxleitner


Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County was on Capitol Hill last week, seeking increased funding for affordable housing from Washington state …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Habitat lobbies Capitol for affordable housing funds


By Kirk Boxleitner


Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County was on Capitol Hill last week, seeking increased funding for affordable housing from Washington state representatives.

Hundreds of local Habitat organizations and advocates were in Washington, D.C. during the week for the fifth and final year of the “Cost of Home” campaign, calling upon congressional leaders to continue to support policies that Habitat asserts will allow 10 million individuals to meet their “most basic needs.”

“For millions more Americans, affordable housing is beyond reach,” East Jefferson Habitat interim communications and marketing manager Helen Wilson said. “Rising interest rates and mortgage costs create barriers to homeownership, and slow construction of new single-family homes during a nationwide housing shortage. Half of all U.S. renters spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and 11.6 percent spent more than half their paycheck on rent. Here in Washington state, every one in seven households pay half or more of their income on housing.”

According to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, Jefferson County ranks 38th out of 39 counties for affordability, and according to the American Community Survey of 2021, almost 48 percent of Port Townsend renters are cost-burdened by housing, since 36 percent of homes in Port Townsend are rentals, of which just 0.4 percent are available.

Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County built 11 homes in 2023, six of which are paired homes on Habitat-owned land. The group is actively building and planning three permanent affordable-housing developments, including a planned neighborhood for Port Hadlock that awaits the completion of a sewer system, and is slated to provide 150 mixed single- and multi-family homes for the county’s workforce in 2025.

Jamie Maciejewski, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County, took part in “Habitat on the Hill” from Feb. 6-8 as a workshop speaker and advocate, meeting with staff from the offices of U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.

Maciejewski explained that all three elected officials were targeted because they are “strongly supportive of federal policies that support more housing, as vital economic infrastructure.”

Maciejewski said that Habitat expects to continue to work with Congress to expand the supply of entry-level housing.

“As first-time home buyers have been severely impacted by decreased production, there’s been an increase in demand for second homes, and rising interest rates,” Wilson said.

Maciejewski added, “While every part of the country is experiencing a shortage of entry-level homes, Jefferson County has some unique challenges, as an area that is highly desirable for second homes. And while I very much appreciated the chance to be there, and participate in robust conversations, the most powerful voices on the Hill were the Habitat homeowners who traveled to share their stories.”

Also in attendance was Colleen Robinson, executive director of the neighboring Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County.

“Increasing permanently affordable housing decreases the cost of homes,” Maciejewski said. “In rural communities like East Jefferson County, every federal dollar invested in housing leverages significant additional state and local dollars, and multiplies the number of homes built.”

Habitat for Humanity called upon Congress to respond to this need by supporting housing and community development programs in 2025, as well as through the passage of the bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.

For more information on the “Cost of Home” campaign, visit habitat.org/costofhome online.

For more information on “Habitat on the Hill,” visit habitat.org/about/advocacy/habitat-on-the-hill online.