County seeks public input on housing with new survey

Island County recently released a survey to gather information about residents’ housing experiences in the county.

The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and asks residents if they own or rent, when they moved to Island County, how satisfied they are with their current housing situation, among other questions.

Results from the survey will be used for the update to the housing element of Island County’s comprehensive plan. The plan is a long-range policy guide for how the county intends to manage growth with respect to the environment, available resources and the overall character desired by the community.

The Growth Management Act, or GMA, requires counties and cities to have this sort of plan and to review it every eight years.

The plan’s housing element was reviewed last year, but that review mostly involved updating facts and figures, said Meredith Penny, a long-range planner coordinating the update.

With this update, planning staff is looking at goals and policies to make sure they are in line with how the community wants the growth of the county to look, Penny said. She said the housing element will “provide a broad direction for any sort of regulatory changes that might come along.”

The element will determine how zoning code and land-use standards will be applied in the future.

The housing element includes an inventory of current housing, a housing needs analysis, targets and capacity, affordable housing and goals and policies.

Affordable housing will be a major component of this update, and Penny said they will be analyzing which types of housing need to be added for under-served demographics.

“Affordability is tied to availability,” she said.

Affordable housing is defined as 30 percent of the household income going toward rent or a mortgage, including utilities.

The department has begun receiving public input by holding stakeholder meetings with individuals with a lot of experience with housing, Penny said. The next steps include either hosting community meetings, presenting to outside groups or setting up booths at local events.

The department hopes to receive around 500 responses to the survey, which can be found on the Island County website homepage. Those interested in the update can follow it on the planning and community development project page.

The survey is available from Oct. 5 to Nov. 3. Responses are anonymous. To visit the survey directly, visit CommunityHousingSurvey on the web.

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