Pullman 2040 Housing Security Project Update

The chart below describes affordable housing in Whitman County as of 2015—and not much has changed since then. In Pullman, specifically, there is a gap between the need for affordable housing for households with lower income (50% or less of the Median Family Income) and the number of affordable housing units available, whether rented or owned. Home purchasing affordability continues to be a struggle for many households in Pullman, as housing market prices continue to rise and few new homes are being built at “entry level” prices in the area.

The Housing Security Project work group did identify resources and initiatives present in Pullman to provide some relief, and has also begun to list some long-term dreams and potential policy changes that can also continue to combat housing insecurity in the Pullman area.

A top need for ongoing work is a communication and public education plan to describe and define the actual environment of the local housing challenges to residents, and to reduce the existing stigma around affordable housing and its residents. We believe all members of the community deserve the right to reach their full potential, and income and housing challenges in the community are ours to address and solve as a community.

The following is the initial inventory of existing housing security programs and projects seeking to bridge the identified affordable housing gap:

  • Continuum of care for those experiencing homelessness, with a referral system in place using nonprofit, first responder, and local motel resources to meet the need, supported by a Community Relief Fund as an emergency, discretionary source of funding to serve those in need. Many thanks to Family Promise for its network of local churches who house homeless families in need.
  • 5 current Low Income Housing Tax Credit affordable housing projects currently providing over 150 affordable housing apartments to families and individuals with low income, with one new 56-unit project, RiverView Apartments, to be completed in late 2019. Over 200 units of subsidized or affordable housing are now available in the Pullman area, although the needs continues to grow beyond the capacity of these resources.
  • The Sojourner’s Alliance in Moscow helps address local homeless housing issues, which aids Pullman’s work. The Alliance has struggled in the past two years with funding and with a disastrous arson-caused fire at its homeless housing facility, but its men’s facility is now re-opening and can begin to build capacity.
  • Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse continues to offer emergency or crisis shelter for households experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence and plays a key role in providing initial resources to homeless households.
  • The Regency Pullman, providing assisted living and retirement housing in Pullman, has recently added 16 beds in a Memory Care Unit to provide secure housing for those struggling with diminished capacity.
  • A Rural Home Repair Revolving Loan program will be introduced in the fall and should help households with low income repair their homes to the point they would qualify for the Washington State Low Income Weatherization Program.
  • Funding from Avista Utilities in the form of Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP) grants is now available and will help retrofit local multi-unit housing projects with energy saving upgrades, as well as address energy conservation measures, all to make the projects more operationally efficient. This will lengthen the years of service in local housing projects over time.
  • Technology and innovations in building design and sustainability are providing possibilities for alternative and efficient housing designs which can help with future development of housing security.

A Palouse Housing Needs Assessment and the 2018 Whitman County Community Needs Assessment will both come out with findings by the end of the year, and can help the 2040 Housing Security team identify both needs and opportunities in Pullman for improving the Housing Security landscape.