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County blamed for lack of building lots

Kitsap County is facing an acute housing shortage, and some people feel the county government is to blame for the situation.

“There is no excuse for not having any buildable lots in Kitsap County,” Port Orchard developer Richard A. Brown said during a public comment segment at Monday’s Kitsap County Board of Commissioners Meeting. “

This is a crisis situation. People earning an average wage can’t afford to live here,” he said. “If something isn’t done, people are going to be sleeping on the street.”

Brown feels the problem centers around the county’s unwillingness to expand the Urban Growth Area (UGA), land supported by municipal services and utilities. This failure causes an uncontrolled buildup in rural areas along with rampant price increases that make it difficult for lower income people to buy or build a home, he believes.

“It’s a disaster,” Brown said. “This is the first time that we have had escalating housing prices in Kitsap County without a corresponding increase in population.”

Brown feels the county has not done a timely buildable land study. Department of Community Development director Kamur-on Gurol said a land-capacity analysis is in progress but he did not want to commit to a completion date.

“The supply of affordable housing is a big part of the overall economics of the housing market,” Gurol said. “But it’s not the only aspect. A variety of different things go into the cost of a house besides how many lots are available. What the market will pay determines the cost of the house.”

Gurol said Kitsap County was still more affordable than other areas in the Puget Sound region.

County Commissioner Jan Angel acknowledged the almost nonexistent availability of lower-priced housing, along with the high cost of building new homes. “The lots aren’t there,” she said. “And the cost of building continues to grow to the point where it is not affordable for a lot of young people.”

Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (KCCHA) homebuyer education coordinator Laura Paton concedes the severity of the situation, but offers regular classes about how first time homebuyers can maximize their position.

“We’ve wanted to do an affordable parade of homes for about three years, but most of those homes are sold within a day,” she said. “But people need to have some hope. There are a lot of loan programs out there which provide options for people who want to buy a home.”

The next KCCHA classes will be held March 23 and 25 at Givens Community Center in Port Orchard and April 14 and 14 at West Park Community Center in Port Orchard. All classes are from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

For more information call (800) 693-7070 or email patonl@kccha.org.

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