Affordable housing idea could be done in Snohomish


To the Editor:
ere are two facts widely reported recently: In Snohomish County affordable housing has become almost non-existent; homelessness continues to increase.
Facts less widely reported: Snohomish County expects growth of 300,000 new residents over the next 20 years. The City of Snohomish’s assignment is to make room for 2500 of these newcomers.
It is worth noting that within the City of Snohomish there are sizable land parcels available for housing and commercial redevelopment, for which there have been no developers, for years now, because land has become so expensive within our city limits that developers risk an inadequate return on their investment building affordable housing.
Some of these land parcels are public (county/school/city) owned, which is to say we, the public, in a sense, own this land. Yes, it is managed for us, but we should be able to influence these parcels’ use.
There are solutions that would pave the way to appropriately planned, affordable housing, with guarantees that housing remains affordable in perpetuity. Most examples are known as Community Land Trusts, where members of the community own the land, hold it in trust, and contract with developers to build housing and commercial spaces which are then sold to buyers. The buyer owns the building, the trust leases the land to the buyer. The Tulalip Reservation is trust land; so is the Irvine (California) Ranch, upon which much of Irvine and UC Irvine are built. Public Housing Trusts are very possible. We can do this in Snohomish.

Janice Lengenfelder