Award-Winning Initiative in Spokane Spurred by Housing Opportunity Grant

Award-Winning Initiative in Spokane Spurred by Housing Opportunity Grant

March 2024

Spokane, Washington, was in a housing crisis. A National Association of REALTORS® grant is helping to change that—and earned the city a 2023 Smart Communities Award from Governor Jay Inslee, to boot.

In 2022, census data showed that housing inventory in Washington state was the lowest in the country—and even worse in the city of Spokane, population 229,000, which was facing only a two- to three-week supply of homes. So, Spokane Association of REALTORS® brought in the Counselors of Real Estate to help give an objective assessment of market conditions and roadblocks, plus a practical plan for moving forward.

After a strenuous application process, a CRE Consulting Corps team—with experts in housing, economics, and policymaking—conducted more than 30 interviews with Spokane lawmakers, developers and other housing stakeholders. “These stakeholders became vested partners in the recommendations moved forward by the group,” says Eric Johnson, 2020 Spokane REALTORS® president.

The CRE-CC effort resulted in an 89-page Action Steps to Increase Spokane’s Housing Supply report and a regional housing summit for stakeholders. It also laid the foundation for the city’s Building Opportunity and Choices for All (BOCA) interim ordinance, which put in effect zoning changes—including allowing duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes citywide, townhomes on all residential lots, reduced vehicle parking requirements, building height increases and more.

BOCA recently earned a governor’s award for the City of Spokane, and the interim ordinance has in the meantime become a permanent project, Building Opportunity for Housing.

The CRE-CC project was funded by Spokane REALTORS®, Washington REALTORS®, Spokane Home Builders Association, and a Housing Opportunity Grant from the REALTOR® Party.

“The CRE-CC project likely added to the body of work that propelled this zoning project forward,” says Darin Watkins, government affairs director at Spokane Association of REALTORS®. “REALTORS® here believe this project is critical to our future. The backing by the REALTOR® Party played a key role in helping us defend the rights of housing.”

Adds Tiffany Claxton, Spokane REALTORS® chief executive officer, “In addition to infill opportunities allowing for multi-family units in the city, a record number of new residential construction permits have been one of the key developments along with the townhome regulations, which was a specific recommendation of the CRE-CC report.”

Spokane REALTORS® recommends any association addressing similar challenges to utilize the services of CRE-CC team as an additional resource and advocate in addressing housing opportunity issues in their communities, cities, and municipalities.

Courtesy of Danielle Moores, Senior Editor, AExperience For Association Executives. Powered by REALTOR® Magazine. Article will also be featured in Spring Issue of AE Experience for Association Executives

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