PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson Board of County Commissioners approved the funding levels and the release of a request for proposals for homeless and affordable housing projects.
The commissioners approved both pieces of the measure in an unanimous vote Monday morning in the commissioners’ chambers at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
The funding comes from the Affordable Housing Fund (Fund 148) and the Homeless Housing Fund (Fund 149).
Money from Fund 148 must be used in a way that benefits affordable housing while Fund 149 is more stringent in that it’s focused strictly on homeless housing, officials said.
Vicki Kirkpatrick, director of Jefferson Public Health, organized the request for proposals (RFP) with the work of the Joint Housing Task Force and its Joint Oversight Board.
In each fund, the county has two types of revenue: sustainable revenue that is predicted to continue each year — and be made available each year on a competitive basis — and a one-time cash balance that will be exhausted once it is spent, documents said.
For Fund 148, the sustainable revenue is about $31,000 per full year and the one-time balance is about $83,000, the documents said.
For Fund 149, the sustaining revenue is about $248,683. The amount not currently being used is $130,000 and the remaining $118,683 of sustainable funding is already contracted for shelter services for 2020, the documents said.
The one-time balance for Fund 149 is about $111,000, the documents said.
Officials are trying to keep the sustainable fund use at or below 80 percent of expenditures as a safety cushion against a future recession, County Administrator Philip Morley said.
“We ran a two-year recession with a 20 percent revenue drop and slow recovery scenario, and the model worked.” Kirkpatrick said. “However, a deeper recession or longer period before recovery could still require a cut in service levels.”
Both funds will have allocations for the received proposals to be distributed for services and projects between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.
Projects in 2021 will be for the full 12-month year, but will not have a proportional increase, Kirkpatrick said.
The worry of the next recession drove a lot of the fund allocations, Morley said.
“This provides a balance that provides a certainty for the future,” Morley said. “For a moderate recession, we’re in good shape.”
District 1 Commissioner Kate Dean is worried that without a focus on building more housing, items and funding such as this will just be a stop-gap measure until further plans can be made.
“Until we build more inventory, this is just going to be a Band-Aid,” Dean said.
District 2 Commissioner David Sullivan said this RFP style and approach toward affordable housing will be a “learning experience,” and the current procedure doesn’t have to be permanent.
“This isn’t the final way things are going to be done,” Sullivan said. “It is best to just go forward with the process and see how it plays out.
“I start looking short term first. … We’re just going to have to make a dent with these funds.”
In the final discussion before the commissioners approved the measures, Dean said “I wish we were distributing more and in a more flexible way.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]