Emergency ordinance offers hope to people living in vehicles, tents in Kitsap County

PORT ORCHARD — Recognizing that the affordable housing crisis in Kitsap County has no short-term solution, the county has turned to churches, nonprofits and volunteers to help temporarily solve the problem at no cost to taxpayers.

In February 2016, Kitsap County adopted emergency ordinance 531-2016. making it easier for religious organizations, public entities, and 501(c)(3) organizations to provide accommodations for some of the more than 1,100 individuals who are living without shelter in their cars, RVs and “membrane shelters” (i.e., tents).

The ordinance was subsequently extended to February of next year and may be extended further indefinitely. “Given the continuing housing crisis, I believe we will want to leave the ordinance open as an option,” said County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, who is active in he county’s affordable housing efforts.

Under the ordinance, a developed residential property may host one recreational vehicle or up to two tents, provided certain simple rules are met. Religious, public entities, and and 501(c)(3) organizations can host up to 40 tents and up to 50 people, or use their parking lots as safe parks for six or fewer RVs and motor vehicles. An agency may also host up to 75 people in a building — again, providing its meets the assigned requirements.

To read the ordinance and requirements, go to http://www.kitsapgov.com/dcd/documents/Transitory%20Ordinance%20531-2016%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf. For more information, contact Kitsap County Department of Community Development, 360-337-5777; or email Natalie Kizmick@co.Kitsap.wa.us. The website has a feedback page that gives you an opportunity to register your support or opposition to the ordinance.