POULSBO — For every $100 increase in the average rent, homelessness increases 15 to 32 percent, according to the state Department of Commerce.
The average monthly rent for an apartment in Kitsap County went up $52 in the first quarter of 2016, according to Apartment Insight Washington. Poulsbo/Bainbridge Island reported the highest average rent ($1,418) and the lowest vacancy rate (2.42 percent) in the county.
There is a growing gap between the housing poor and the more affluent. There is no single state, or even county, in the nation where a worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour can afford a modest two-bedroom apartment at market rent. ($7.25 an hour is $290 a week, $1,256.66 a month, $15,080 a year, before taxes.) Source: National Law Income Housing Coalition.
The number of affordable housing units is declining. Between 2015-17, 867 of the approximately 4,272 affordable housing units currently available in Kitsap County—about 20 percent—are projected to be lost because of expiring restrictions on rental rates and existing subsidy programs, according to the state Department of Commerce.
Meanwhile, federal subsidies are shrinking. As rents have risen, federally subsidized housing has continued to decline. Today, only one in four eligible renters receive federal housing assistance, and waiting lists for the resources that do exist are long — sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands nationally. Source: Center on Budget & Policy Priorities.
The housing poor have another problem, too: more of their money is going to state and local taxes. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Washington has the most regressive state and local tax systems of any state in the union. The poorest 20 percent pay 16.8 percent of their income to taxes, the middle class pays 10.1 percent, and the top 1 percent pay 2.4 percent.
Finally, there is the challenge presented by an aging population that is loathe to move because they want to remain close to their caregivers and friends. Sixty-five percent of older adults with long-term care needs rely on family and friends to provide assistance, according to the Institute on Aging.