A group of private and public businesses along with non-profit groups are forming partnership to address the acute housing shortage the Wenatchee Valley.

They attended the NCW Regional Housing Summit at Pybus Public Market this week, where ideas were shared on how to provide more housing that's also affordable.

Steve Maher of Our Valley Our Future spoke at the summit, and he says current housing conditions pose a health and wellness issue as well as an economic problem for the area.

"If you don't have affordable housing, people are not going to live here," said Maher. "And that's going to hurt businesses who can't recruit employees. It's going to hurt disposable income."

A recent survey by Our Valley Our Future showed 62 percent of 1,500 respondents had considered relocating because of the high cost of housing in the Wenatchee area.

Maher said a lot of discussion during the summit centered on alternative housing.

"Steel and glass container homes and 3-D printed concrete homes fit that narrative," Maher said. "You can put those homes up far less expensively than you can a stick-built home."

The idea of partnering philanthropy with government to provide more housing was also discussed.

The goal of the group is to formulate recommendations for elected officials and the community on how to tackle the housing problem.

It'd hoped the end result would create more diverse and affordable housing inventory in North Central Washington.

Some statistics affecting housing in the area were also revealed at the summit.

Among them:

  • Similar to other places in the country, NCW communities have been grappling with a shortage of attainable and affordable housing, including workforce and low-income housing.
  • Since 2017, median sale prices have risen by 66 percent in the two-county region, effectively shutting out many first-time homebuyers and essential workers.
  • Rental vacancy rates have remained low for several years, leading to a sharp increase in monthly rent payments.
  • While construction of single-family homes and apartments has picked up over the past two years, the region continues to witness strong in-migration from other parts of the state and country.
  • In March, the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics showing that Chelan and Douglas counties grew by 1.2 percent over a 15-month period (from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021), with about 91 percent of that gain coming from people moving to the region.

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