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Federal Way joins Regional Affordable Housing Program
As Federal Way and surrounding South King County communities grow larger, the need for affordable housing has become greater, especially in the current economic climate.
With funding from state and federal sources continuing to dry up, Federal Way and its neighboring communities face a crunch of increasing population and housing needs.
Bryant Enge, administrative services director for the city, has touted the advantages of Federal Way joining the Regional Affordable Housing Program (RAHP).
At the Oct. 4 city council meeting, Enge said the program was created in 2001-02 and is funded by a $10 document processing fee on all “real property” documents in the county. Of those funds, 60 percent go to the county, with the remainder funneled back to the state. The money is divided up three ways within the county, Enge said.
The city of Seattle receives 37 percent, South King County receives 32 percent and North/East King County receives roughly about 29 percent, Enge shared.
Those proportions are determined by the program’s Joint Recommendations Committee (JRC). Joining the RAHP will allow Federal Way to increase its influence on how that money is divvied up, Enge said.
“The JRC sets the guidelines, the guidelines do include the current allocation, so if there is a concern on our behalf, we can go to the JRC and appeal the current allocation,” he said.
Enge said that most of South King County already participates. It makes sense for Federal Way to join because RAHP is a “cost effective program,” he said. Some RAHP funds have already gone toward homes in the Westway neighborhood, the Multi-Service Center and transitional housing.
Councilman Mike Park felt that Federal Way joining the RAHP was the right decision. Park said that South King County’s needs are probably the greatest of the whole county, and that the population spike experienced in the lower end of the county adds to that need. Park also felt Federal Way joining the program could lead to a coalition of local cities to generate leverage over the JRC and its allocation decisions.
“We need to address this issue to the JRC and maybe have cities in South King County ally together and express our concerns,” Park said.
Deputy Mayor Dini Duclos echoed Park’s thoughts.
“We should approve this so we do have some say in it,” Duclos said. “If we join the inter-local, we will have a lot more ability to have a say in what goes on in there, and in terms of getting information from them.”
Federal Way had previously participated in the RAHP through its involvement with the King County consortium for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. This year, the city decided to drop out of the consortium and become a “direct entitlement” agency for CDBG funds. Because of this, Federal Way could not participate in RAHP as it previously had done, said city spokesman Chris Carrel.
“The change reflects the change in our status as a CDBG direct entitlement agency,” Carrel said. “(The inter-local) is just a mechanism to retain that involvement with RAHP.”
The council agreed to enter into the inter-local agreement with the RAHP in a unanimous vote.