PROUDLY SERVING MEMBERS THROUGHOUT CHELAN, DOUGLAS & OKANOGAN COUNTIES
July 11, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Steve Maher, Our Valley Our Future project coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org or (509) 630-2090
WENATCHEE — With housing prices continuing to rise sharply and housing availability at a premium, Our Valley, Our Future / Nuestro Valle, Nuestro Futuro launched an online survey today to get a better idea of housing challenges residents and businesses are facing — and how the region can shape potential solutions.
The survey (available in both English and Spanish) can be found at www.ourvalleyourfuture.org. The self-administered survey takes an about 20 minutes to complete on average. Click here to complete the survey!
Besides a series of multiple choice questions, the survey has a place where respondents can tell their own personal stories when it comes to housing.
The survey was developed by Our Valley, Our Future with input from people involved in all aspects of housing. “There are a lot of perceptions in the community regarding housing right now,” said Steve Maher, project coordinator of Our Valley, Our Future. “The availability and affordability of housing affects nearly everyone, regardless of their background, employment, age or income. We want to tap into what the community is thinking and what is really happening on the ground. It’s important to know what residents really need. What do they see as the critical issues? What housing options would they support? The same goes for businesses. What are they willing to support to ensure there is sufficient housing to recruit and retain employees?“
The housing survey is part of a broader Regional Housing Approach “game-changer” initiative, one of seven major projects in the Our Valley Action Plan. The housing game-changer calls for a broad stakeholders group to utilize the survey results and other information to recommend innovative solutions and fixes to the system. The stakeholders group is to be made up of citizens, realtors, developers, builders, government planners, low-income and middle-income housing experts, lenders, renters, and major employers.
“Our Valley wants everyone in the community to have a voice in making housing more available and affordable,” Maher said. “We know housing is impacting the region’s livability and economic growth, and not always in a good way. It’s important for the community to come together to determine what can be done in a collaborative, non-partisan manner.”
In addition to the survey, the Our Valley, Our Future organization is paying for research into why housing costs in Chelan and Douglas counties are so much higher than other locales in Eastern Washington, including Spokane, Tri-Cities and Yakima. A community forum will be held in September to release the survey and research findings and to gather additional public input. Following the forum, Our Valley intends to hand the game-changer project off to the broad- based coalition of citizens and housing interests.
The coalition's charge will be to take the survey and research, along with input generated at the forum, and develop short-term and long-term recommendations for solutions to the region's growing housing challenges.
Similar collaborative efforts in small- to medium-sized metropolitan areas around the country have led to improved housing affordability and availability in those communities. A Greater Wenatchee Urban Housing Study, conducted in 2016 by the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, found housing affordability to be a major issue in the community, along with the lack of market-rate housing and multifamily housing. The multifamily market in particular had been exacerbated by low vacancy rates and overcrowding.
This year, several major employers in the region have reported they have been unable to fill positions due to the lack of available and affordable housing in the community, including housing for professionals.
Last week, Pacific Appraisal Associates reported the median price for a single-family home in Wenatchee hit an all-time high of $280,500 in June.
Besides the seven major game-changer projects, the Our Valley Action Plan includes 149 action items, divided into six focus areas. All the grassroots projects were identified by residents as ones that will improve their quality of life, build resiliency in the face of change, and shape the community’s future.
Our Valley, Our Future is overseen by a 15-member team of community leaders. Its fiscal sponsor is the United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties.
For more information on Our Valley Our Future / Nuestro Valle Nuestro Futuro, including a downloadable copy of its Action Plan, please visit www.ourvalleyourfuture.org.
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