Kingston survey looks to address affordable housing

Volunteers in Kingston have been taking steps to address the area’s issues surrounding affordable housing recently.

A draft survey, was distributed by volunteers with Kingston’s Affordable Housing Working Group during the Village Green Community Center’s Discover Kingston open house event.

Ruth Westergaard, one of the Kingston Citizens Advisory Council members tasked with developing the survey, said the goal was to get feedback from people in the Kingston area who need affordable housing the most. Once the data are gathered, Westergaard said, a course of action would be developed in order to serve those in need.

“Once the survey is finalized, we’ll do a community-wide distribution in both paper and electronic formats with target locations including foodbanks, library, senior housing, senior center, schools, clinics, tribes, ferry commuters, employers and community programs.”

Westergaard added that the group hopes to begin distributing the survey by the end of October.

Chris Gilbreath serves on the KCAC as a representative for North Kitsap Rotary. According to Gilbreath, a number of options are being explored.

“We have a number of possibilities that we are considering already,” Gilbreath said. “That list includes perhaps creating a tiny house village, utilizing boarding houses, maybe creating our own boarding house from one of our agencies.”

Gilbreath also said the group was “looking at something like subsidized apartments. Of course, we have subsidized apartments that are located near the Village Green, possibly expanding something like that. We are having a discussion about having a county-wide levy that would hopefully create affordable housing throughout the unincorporated areas of the county.”

Gilbreath added that during his time as a teacher in the North Kitsap School District, he frequently encountered students who were either themselves homeless or whose families did not have secure housing.

In a letter addressed to Kitsap County commissioners, KCAC recommended the use of inclusionary zoning as a method “to increase affordable or below market rate housing stock.”

“Inclusionary zoning requires affordable units to be a part of new residential development projects or requires payment for construction of such units elsewhere in the community,” the letter reads.

Kingston’s Village Green Community Center currently operates a severe weather shelter and community meal program. Additionally, The Coffee Oasis — which offers outreach, case management, mentoring, shelter and job training to homeless and at-risk youth — hopes to open a location in Kingston this year.

—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com

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