PORT ANGELES — The City of Port Angeles is in the process of hiring a housing coordinator to work on projects to provide affordable housing and reduce homelessness.
The city council unanimously gave final approval on Tuesday to joining the House America program supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will provide technical assistance to the housing coordinator.
The housing coordinator will be paid with American Rescue Plan Act funds the city has received. About $225,000 has been allocated for the two-year position.
During a meeting in early January, city staff was directed to develop housing goals with the aim of ending homelessness in Port Angeles.
Now, interviews are being scheduled with those who applied for the housing coordinator position by the deadline of Jan. 28. Emma Bolin, interim director of Economic and Community Development, declined to say how many people have applied. Most are from the local area, she said.
“Staff examined the goals, policies and actions from our comprehensive plan, our housing action plan and also looked for overlapping goals in our strategic plan,” Bolin told the council on Tuesday.
“We categorized actions into what has been completed versus outstanding, versus ongoing. The city has achieved many housing-related actions since 2019 and is poised to tackle more in 2022, with our housing coordinator and this HUD support,” she added.
One such action was the approval of changes in the land-use code intended to spark the development of more housing in more areas of the city, she said.
Goals are to increase the number of housing units overall, the number of unhoused people moving into housing, the number of affordable units built and the number of units available to meet housing demands.
“The goals selected quite importantly set the stage for the city to evaluate the strategic plan focus area metrics in support of community housing,” Bolin said.
“They build upon projects already in the pipeline, such as continued housing action plan implementation, including an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) prototype program, housing demonstration project and continued community collaboration,” she continued.
She said that staff suggest a very important goal be adequate public transportation.
In 2019, the city conducted a housing needs survey which found that the city of Port Angeles needs to develop nearly 3,000 more units of housing by 2030 to meet population growth.
The current development trends are not keeping up with this goal; that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have high hopes that House America, because they work with other communities, can share other methods that would be easier for us to track,” Bolin said.
Council member Lindsey Schromen Wawrin read a comment from David Rice, special assistant for Housing and Services at HUD: “I appreciate the care your city staff took to identify where the city’s strategic plan overlaps with House America’s goals,” he said.
The council recognized long-time KONP radio sportscaster and Clallam County community member Scooter Chapman, who has retired after 70 years in sportscasting.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, who represents the 6th Congressional District — which includes the North Olympic Peninsula — talked to council members about federal infrastructure funding. The Gig Harbor Democrat has been making the rounds of governmental agencies this week.
Kilmer also spoke of Chapman’s accomplishments on the House floor on Tuesday night.
“The word legendary gets thrown around in this place a fair amount, but back in my hometown of Port Angeles, Washington, we have had the opportunity to see a local legend in action for seven decades,” Kilmer said.
”Scooter Chapman has been the voice of Port Angeles sports for decades … He’s been someone who cared about young people and their success. He’s been someone who built pride in our community … I’m honored to recognize Scooter Chapman from the floor of the United States House of Representatives as he prepares to sign off from KONP and hang up his microphone. Scooter Chapman has touched so many lives. He has made our community stronger. Mr. Speaker – he is, in a word, legendary,” Kilmer said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].