Mountlake Terrace among cities to receive state grant funds to increase middle housing

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The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded nearly $3 million for 54 cities across 16 Washington counties — including $50,000 to Mountlake Terrace — to support the adoption of local Comprehensive Plan policies and zoning codes to allow more middle housing in residential neighborhoods.

In a news release announcing the awards, the commerce department said that increasing the availability and variety of different housing types is essential to address the shortage that continues to drive up home prices and rents, threatening the potential for homeownership and financial security of many Washington residents in communities throughout the state, not just urban centers.

“Middle housing” is defined in Washington state law as buildings that are compatible in scale, form, and character with single-family houses and contain two or more attached, stacked or clustered homes.

They may include duplexes, fourplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments, cottage housing or other configurations — the same types of housing that exist in many older neighborhoods.

“Middle housing and accessory dwelling units can increase homeownership opportunities, add to the diversity of rental housing, and allow families at every stage of life to stay in the communities they call home,” said Washington Commerce Director Mike Fong. “Data show we need a million more homes in our state over the next 20 years to address the growing challenge of housing affordability, and middle housing is a critical piece to reach that goal.”

All communities planning under Washington state’s Growth Management Act are required to adopt policies for these types of moderate-density housing.

HB 1110, enacted in the 2023 legislative session, requires 77 communities to revise their zoning codes to allow middle housing buildings of two to six units per lot in residential neighborhoods. This is in addition to the requirement to allow two accessory dwelling units (ADUs) per lot within urban growth areas.

Recipients of this first round of Middle Housing Grants represent jurisdictions of diverse size, geography and need. This includes communities not required to plan for middle housing and which are choosing to do so. A second round of funding opened for additional applications on Oct. 31, with up to $1.5 million in grant funding available in support of jurisdictions’ efforts to meet the state’s housing goals. Award amounts can range from $35,000 to $75,000.

“We are in a significant time of action to meet our state’s housing needs,” said Dave Andersen, managing director of Growth Management Services at Commerce. “These grants will help local governments to change local land zoning to allow appropriately-scaled infill development in residential neighborhoods.”

Visit the Planning for Housing website to learn more about middle housing. Another round of middle housing grants may open for application in the first quarter of 2024.

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