How the City of Pasco is handling housing issues as the workforce grows

PASCO, Wash.-

Amazon, Darigold, and Reser’s are all big companies bringing lots of jobs to the Tri-Cities over the next few years.

The Economic Development Manager of Pasco, Mike Gonzalez says Amazon will bring 1500 jobs to Pasco this year. Not to mention Reser’s and Darigold bringing several hundred more.

“It’s going to be a really quick timeline and incredible transformation but it creates that thought of okay, what are we going to do about housing?” said Gonzalez.

The Tri-Cities is growing, but so is the price of homes.

Barry Long is a realtor with EverStar Realty.

“Homes under $350,000 right now are almost nonexistent. I think I saw in Pasco, homes under 350 there were like four,” said Long.

The city of Pasco is responding to this housing issue, trying to keep up with the demand and the influx of people they’re expecting to fill those jobs.

They are working on flexibility with zoning to introduce new housing options into more areas of Pasco by pioneering a plan to address the issue head-on.

“We’ve got the Department of Commerce grant that we are going start looking at. We’re going to start reaching out to stakeholders. We started up-zoning a little bit allowing those accessory dwellings across the city of Pasco,” said Gonzalez.

Long says he’s hearing from buyers that they can’t find what they want. He says there are about 17-18 hundred new homes a year but resale inventory is low and the price of land and development is high.

“Right now the median home price in Tri-Cities is about $450,000, half above and half below. An affordable home for somebody making an 18-20 dollar an hour wage, that affordable home is going to be somewhere around 300,000 dollars,” said Long.

So he thinks this could lead to more people looking to build more affordable homes outside of Tri-Cities.

“There’s no better time than now to try to buy, but the problem is, there really isn’t a lot to buy,” said Long.

Gonzalez says much of the land in Tri-Cities is zoned for single-family homes, but they are committed to creating more housing density, which is something he says the Washington state legislature has been talking about.

“Are there areas that we can give a builder a break? Are there processes that we can go through to make the timeline quicker? Is there anything we can do in the regulatory process to make it easier for a developer?,” said Gonzalez.

This would look like more duplexes, triplexes, and apartments.

“I think you’re going to see over these next 2-3 years some significant progress made in terms of affordability, access to housing, and more density,” said Gonzalez.

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Article Source: Fox 11