HOUSING CRISIS

Lacey City Council surprised over RHC’s permanent supportive housing plan

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Several members of the Lacey City Council shared their surprise when they learned that the Regional Housing Council (RHC) has forwarded a motion to the Thurston County Commissioners for the acquisition of 150 to 200 permanent supportive housing units.

During the Lacey City Council work session last Thu., Sept. 23, Mayor Andy Ryder said that he had received a letter from the county commissioners on the proposed purchase of 150 to 200 permanent supportive housing units. Ryder shared that while the action is more “concept-based,” he was expecting the RHC to present some of the project details before the plan was forwarded to the County Commissioners for approval.

Councilmember Lenny Greenstein, who was also a member of the RHC shared his surprise. “I had a conversation today with Commissioner Mejia, and to me, it doesn’t look like they are ready to take action...so I was a bit surprised actually to see the letter,” Greenstein said.

Councilmember Michael Steadman shared, “the transparency part, we need to be transparent so we can communicate with our citizens. There’s just a lack thereof. That’s the most concerning part for me.”

The RHC’s proposal provided an outline of the funding sources for the acquisition of 150 to 200 permanent supportive housing units. City Manager Scott Spence shared that the council has identified around $8 million to $20 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), $1 million from Washington State HB 1406, $4.5 million from the County Home Fund, and an additional $14 million from Washington State HB 1277.

However, Spence admitted that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. “There are some details that needed... It was a big framework so it’s a big picture they are identifying each ARPA funds...so in the schema of permanent supportive housing what would it look like to build 150 to 200 permanent supportive housing units.” Despite the lack of information, Spence said, “I think it’s a good framework, it’s a good start.”

The RHC is planning to use the fund for the purchase of  hotel properties or multi-family homes instead of constructing new housing units. Currently, the council has yet to identify the target population for the project, its project location, as well as the building contractor.

“I suggest we get a full update of the plan going forward so we can have a better-informed conversation,” the Mayor said. Later, Ryder clarified, “I didn’t give any promises that we could do this without talking full council.”

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