Washington lawmakers looking to expand the Affordable Housing Tax Credit

More and more workers are being priced out of Seattle, forcing them to live outside of the city and commute.

By:  Eric Wilkinson, Chris Daniels
Source: KING 5 News

EVERETT, Washington — On Thursday, Senator Maria Cantwell and Congresswoman Susan DelBene tried to raise support for dual bills about the Affordable Housing Tax Credit. 

The lawmakers would like to expand the credit to boost construction. The two lawmakers were supported by the mayors of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett at the announcement.

The bill was introduced in June, and lawmakers said it could help to build 10,000 units in 10 years in Washington state. It has bi-partisan support, but the two lawmakers acknowledge there will need to be more for the legislation to become a reality.

The legislation was announced at a time when more and more people have been priced out of Seattle to nearby cities for more affordable housing. 

With population increases, homebuyers are even having a hard time finding affordable housing in places like Everett. 

Randy Bolerjack has been looking to buy a house in Everett for the better part of the past five years, but he still has a long way to go before he can call a new place "home."

He currently lives in Mill Creek and commutes to work in Everett.

"The market forces have not been in our favor," he said. 

Bolerjack and his wife both have college degrees. They can afford a home somewhere around $300,000, but the median price of a house in Snohomish County is $470,000.

"It looks like it's not our year, again," said Bolerjack. 

A quick look at Zillow shows there are three homes in Everett that he can afford.

Among them is an 894-square-foot, one-bedroom nestled conveniently right along the freeway. The asking price for that home is $309,000.

"It's not something you would be able to raise a family in," Bolerjack lamented.

Over the next 20 years, the population of Snohomish County is expected to grow from 800,000 people to a million.

Most of the growth will come outside of Everett, like to Sultan where 600 new homes are planned with prices starting at $373,000. 

Sultan is 25 miles east of Everett along busy Highway 2 and it's anybody's guess how long that commute would be.

"That's not how I want to live my life and it's certainly not good for the climate or the transportation infrastructure," said Bolerjack. "Commuting is not ideal."

Rising rents have made it more difficult to save for a down payment. Bolerjack's house hunt is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

"The American dream has been put on hold for a few years," he said.