Advocacy

Advocacy

HSN’s organizational structure follows a network model (to learn more about our network model, see “About HSN”). This means we are non-hierarchical in practice; we emphasize dispersed leadership and focus on collaborations and partnerships. In 2022 Advocacy was added to our mission statement, but our philosophy remains unchanged: HSN is interested in exploring many solutions and our network encompasses many voices. We do not hold a single approach to be the answer to the housing crisis, rather we emphasize experimenting, learning and most important, taking action.

Why do we Advocate?

  • To raise awareness and promote problem solving
  • To influence policy
  • To support fundraising efforts

What Does HSN Advocate for?

Simply put, HSN advocates for policies that promote and protect affordable and attainable housing.

Things to keep in mind:

  • We don’t build housing
  • We support the work being done by our housing partners
  • We often focus (but not limit) our scope to local workforce earning too much to qualify for subsidized housing programs, but not enough to affordably purchase homes in our community — Approximately 80 to 150% AMI

Why specifically Workforce above 80% AMI?:

  • To not duplicate efforts of other housing organizations
  • There is a lot of funding and resources available for lower income brackets i.e under 80% AMI (though never enough!), but little to none available for the segment of the workforce making more. (Don’t think of this as competing for slices of the pie, but rather fighting to grow the size of the pie.)

Focus by AMI*

*In recognition of the need, government funding is slowly beginning to extend beyond 80% AMI and some of our housing partners have started exploring how to serve populations making up to 120% AMI. 

Housing for Whom?

As local home sale prices continue to soar it is important to look at what type of residential development is happening in our community and ensure at least some of it is affordable and attainable to local wage earners. 

City and County codes and policy are tools our community can utilize to encourage development that is aligned with our values and to the benefit of the most people. These codes and policies are adopted and modified by our elected officials at the city, county and state levels. However, public engagement shouldn’t stop at election time. Our local officials are continually seeking and influenced by public participation and comment – even just one voice can have a big impact. 

 As there has been much talk of increasing housing density and building more units, we are here to ask the question: For whom is this housing? Is this housing for our nurses? Is this housing for our marine trades people? Our grocery clerks? Baristas? Small business owners? Is the housing affordable to our local workforce, particularly those making above the 80% AMI mark and beyond the threshold for most financial assistance. (To learn more about affordable housing, Area Median Incomes and the scope of our work, check out our Affordable Housing 101 page.)

Lack of affordable housing hurts everyone

Many people who work in our local economy are struggling to find housing despite having jobs that provide reasonable wages. Job offers are frequently turned down on account of inadequate housing. This jeopardizes the ability of our local business, nonprofits, healthcare, emergency services and even government, to properly and effectively operate. 

“The average Port Townsend resident or worker cannot realistically live in the City. As a result, more and more people working in Port Townsend seek housing in outlying communities such as Poulsbo, Sequim, Quilcene, and Port Angeles. A city without housing for local workers is not a healthy and financially sustainable community.” – Port Townsend Planning and Community Development Department

The adjacent report details the struggles many Jefferson County Employers are facing as a result of insufficient affordable housing including Port Townsend Police Chief:

"As much as we’d like to have our police officers live and work in this city, it’s unrealistic. And that’s unfortunate."
Chief Thomas Olson
Port Townsend Police Department

Let's get density right

HSN supports housing density and knows that it is key to affordability, quality of life and environmental preservation. However we advocate for  a density strategy that is well informed and places affordable housing at the forefront. Here is a short list of some relevant community conversations:

Won’t simply increasing the amount of market rate housing solve affordability?

Jefferson County is a highly desirable area to live for a multitude of factors. It attracts people from all over (and this isn’t a bad thing!) However, it seems there is an insatiable amount of demand in our area for housing units priced well above what is affordable for the majority of Jefferson County workers. Local wage earners must compete with those outside the workforce or with higher paying remote jobs. Building more market rate units may relieve some pressure and help lower housing prices, but are unlikely to impact prices in ways meaningful to the local workforce. Initiatives from governments and local community members are needed to to make home affordability a reality for many local workers. 

Advocacy Resources

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