Housing costs, homelessness among top issues in WA, survey says

Statewide, a majority of respondents to Department of Commerce survey agree that rent prices are too high and it costs too much to buy a home.

A survey recently released by the Washington State Department of Commerce shows that majority of Washingtonians consider housing costs and homelessness to be the top two problems in the state.

Across the state, the survey — which was partnered with the Puget Sound Regional Council — showed that following housing costs, rent and homelessness, the overall cost of living is an important problem.

Statewide, housing costs and rent were a top problem to 39% of the 6,000 people surveyed, with 40% in western Washington and central Puget Sound saying that same, and 36% in eastern Washington.

According to the survey, most respondents across the state — between 72% and 75% — chose the two options “rents are too high and increasing too much” and “it costs too much to buy a home” when asked with statements they agreed with about housing.

“These survey results are something every city should know about,” said Bryan Wahl, PSRC executive board member and mayor pro tem for the city of Mountlake Terrace. “Our residents expect local officials to address housing, remove barriers and ensure more housing choices and affordable options are available.”

According to the Department of Commerce, 76% of respondents said they were directly impacted or knew someone directly impacted by the cost and availability of housing, and 49% said it was difficult or very difficult to find affordable housing.

With rising prices and low vacancy rates, many households — about 14% of respondents — have been displaced due to housing costs, eviction, or foreclosure, Commerce said.

The survey revealed that between 62% and 69% of Washington residents agree that their community needs more housing in general and that 80%-83% agreed that their community needs reasonably priced housing.

When Washingtonians were asked whether or not they agreed that government agencies should do more to provide housing not delivered by the market, which ranged from 55% to 64% either agreed or strongly agreed.

By the end of 2024, cities and counties in the central Puget Sound region must update their comprehensive plans and local codes to accommodate their portion of projected housing needs and take other actions under the state’s growth management laws, said the Department of Commerce.

The survey can be found online at deptofcommerce.app.box.com/s/mvhryeuicfetinu8qxvfmihtbifzvzle.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda
Bird’s eye view of apartments and single-family homes in downtown Federal Way.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda Bird’s eye view of apartments and single-family homes in downtown Federal Way.