What is a Housing Action Plan? Why is Yakima creating one now?

A Housing Action Plan (HAP) is a set of concrete steps for the City of Yakima and its partners to support and encourage new housing production that meets local housing needs. The plan will consider the housing needs of current residents, the current workforce, and projected population growth, with a careful eye toward equity of opportunities for housing in different neighborhoods.

In December of 2019, Yakima City Council accepted a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. Using the grant money, the City entered into an agreement with BERK Consulting to assist in the development of this plan.

Why is housing important?

Shelter is the most basic of human needs. When people can secure stable and affordable housing near the locations of jobs and opportunity, they are able to focus on achieving other life goals, such as education, career advancement, health and wellness, or raising a family. Without stable and affordable housing, residents can struggle to achieve these goals.

Why does the City of Yakima need a HAP?

There is a housing shortage in Yakima, and the region continues to grow in population. This results in low vacancy rates, a lack of housing choices for residents seeking to move, and increased competition for the limited supply of homes that are available. When competition is high, housing prices and rents will increase.

Over a third of all families and households in Yakima are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their household income on housing costs. By increasing the supply of housing in formats that are affordable to more families and individuals, we can support secure and stable housing for more residents and increase community resiliency during times of economic uncertainty.

What is the goal of developing a HAP for Yakima? How will the Plan help to make Yakima a more equitable city?

Through the HAP, the City of Yakima aims to ensure that more housing is available and affordable for people of all income levels, that a greater variety of housing types will be available, and that existing housing is well maintained. The HAP will be flexible in order to accommodate future growth and change in Yakima.

What is affordable housing?

Housing is typically considered affordable if total housing costs do not exceed 30% of a household’s gross income. Housing affordability is an issue that affects all kinds of families and individuals in Yakima, not just low-income households. This plan will address housing affordability challenges across the entire income spectrum. It will include strategies to encourage both market rate housing development as well as housing that is subsidized to be affordable for low-income residents. 

What is the process for developing this HAP?

Developing a HAP involves several phases of work. The process will include assessing housing needs and market conditions using publicly available data sources; reviewing past studies and research on the topic; gathering information through interviews with stakeholders; and engaging the public.

What is the timeline for this process?

What is the timeline for this process?

The plan will be developed throughout 2020 and early 2021. A preliminary project schedule is shown below. Uncertainty regarding the length of the “stay at home” restrictions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus could impact the timeline and some milestones. Once these restrictions are lifted we will share more details about community engagement activities.

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Who should participate in developing the HAP?

Who should participate in developing the HAP?

Yakima’s community includes a wide range of residents and households with a diversity of needs and challenges. The City of Yakima wants to hear from the entire community to develop the HAP so that the housing strategies will be reflective of all residents and grounded in community members’ knowledge of Yakima’s strengths and challenges.

Broad community engagement in developing the HAP also helps ensure that the plan reflects housing needs that might not show up in statistical data, such as the connection between housing and human services.

What else has the City of Yakima done to address housing needs?

The City of Yakima has worked on several aspects of housing in past years. The HAP will build on these efforts and develop a cohesive, actionable set of strategies that can help prioritize resources, implement strategies identified in prior plans, and achieve the City’s vision. Past efforts include:

  • Comprehensive Plan 2040 Housing Element, 2017. This Comprehensive Plan guides Yakima’s physical development over the 2017-2040 period, including housing changes. The plan describes community values, directs municipal activities and services, and provides a statement of policy about Yakima’s desire for growth and character. The Comprehensive Plan Land Use and Housing Elements encourage the following:
    • A variety of home sizes and styles to meet the needs of small households.
    • Housing and services for seniors such as aging in place, health, and mobility.
    • Universal design of housing and supportive services to meet the needs of differently abled residents.
    • A range of housing opportunities to address some of the hurdles faced by households with modest incomes.
  • City of Yakima Consolidated Plan, 2015 – 2019. This strategic plan coordinates strategy to meet housing and community development needs. A selection of the objectives includes providing decent housing, expanding private sector participation, expanding the capacity of nonprofit housing providers, and benefitting people with lower incomes.
  • Yakima County 5-Year Plan to Address Homelessness, 2019 – 2024. This plan is a 2019 update to the existing plan to end homelessness that Yakima County approved in 2017. The plan’s vision is to reduce homelessness in Yakima County so that it is brief, rare and one-time through an efficient and effective homeless response system that prioritizes putting people into stable housing.
  • Yakima County Farmworker Housing Action Plan, 2011 – 2016. This plan was developed by the Washington Farmworker Housing Trust in partnership with the Yakima County Farmworker Housing Trust Advisory Council. It includes an assessment of housing needs, goals and required resources to support housing stability, and strategies and action steps to support housing stability.
    • Related project: The Washington State Department of Commerce is currently conducting a farmworker housing study that will update information in Yakima’s Farmworker Housing Action Plan. This plan is scheduled to be finalized in August 2020.