wenRep. Kim Schrier (D-WA) swung through Wenatchee City Hall today. There she hosted a roundtable discussion on the thorniest of issues: affordable housing (or lack thereof).

Schrier, a career pediatrician from Sammamish, has represented Washington's 8th congressional district since 2019. Last year she cosponsored the AHCIA.

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The housing crunch can be felt in every nook and cranny of America. It's especially acute in Washington State, where in many cities the median home price exceeds $1 million. First-time homebuyers - to say nothing of renters - are having a devil of a time.

According to Schrier, the housing crunch is the animating issue in the 8th district. No other issue is quite so vexing or unsettling to her constituents.

"Housing is the number one thing I hear about," Schrier says. "It makes life unaffordable. People are worried about whether their kids will be able to come back and live where they live."

How did we get here? Schrier posits two explanations, one of which is somewhat unique to this area. The 8th district - Leavenworth in particular - is catnip for well-to-do transients and vacationers.

"A lot of people from west of the [Cascades] have come out here and bought second homes," Schrier says. "That's especially true in Leavenworth. There's almost no workplace housing there." (We reported recently on Leavenworth's efforts to de-gentrify.)

The other problem lies in a mismatch between supply and demand. If we increased the housing supply - if we embarked on a massive homebuilding spree - that would greatly ameliorate the crisis. This never occurs to lawmakers - or does it?

Some of Schrier's colleagues, she says, are a little self-involved at times.

"They definitely grasp the urgency [of the housing crunch]," Schrier says. "But on a one-by-one basis, they're thinking about their own fancy houses, for example, and how that might relate to the crisis." NIMBY syndrome is an all too prevalent phenomenon on Capitol Hill.

In addition to Schrier, the housing roundtable included a number of local officials.

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Gallery Credit: Kyle Matthews

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