‘Multiply the Supply’: We Need More Affordable Housing Options to Solve the Housing Shortage
Like many other communities in our region we are facing housing shortages and increasing rents, and we need real-world solutions to assist in the creation of affordable housing. On Wednesday, March 9, the City of Bremerton will bring a proposal to the City Council to change the multi-family housing tax exemption, or MFTE for short. The MFTE is an incentive Bremerton can use to spur more affordable housing.
“The goal for the City’s proposal is to increase the number of affordable and accessible units for our citizens,” said Mayor Wheeler. “Residents are facing a housing crunch and we need more places for people to live to meet demand. This is an opportunity for the City Council to increase affordable housing in our City.”
The MFTE is available when people build new apartments or renovate buildings to create new housing units. Under the current MFTE program, they pay no property taxes on the land improvements for a period of years (8 to 12 years for certain housing) in exchange for increasing housing in the City’s designated areas. The exemption served a unique role during times of low growth when the City enacted this incentive 16 years ago. However, as new housing demand and rental rates have skyrocketed, it’s clear we need changes to the program to multiply the supply of new affordable housing in the City.
Here is what the City is proposing for the MFTE:
- Eliminate “market-rate” housing (an 8-year incentive)
- Require all projects that utilize the incentive to provide affordable housing to low-income households (a 12-year incentive)
- Ensure that affordable units are available across all unit sizes
- Add terms that include tenant relocation assistance
The proposed changes would begin on July 1, 2022.
“It’s essential to revise the MFTE program to support more affordable housing,” said Mayor Wheeler. “Our residents are currently facing rising rents due to a housing shortage. We need solutions like the MFTE to increase the supply. I encourage residents to watch the City Council’s discussion on the MFTE at the study session on March 9.”
To view the discussion on MFTEs at the Bremerton City Council study session on March 9, 2022, please find details here.