By Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County Executive.
For more than a year, a group of mayors and other elected officials have been meeting to create regional solutions to the challenge of affordable housing. The group, co-chaired by Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, Councilmember Connie Ladenburg and myself, is known as SSHAP – or the South Sound Housing Affordability Partners.
I’ve been pleased that we’ve had great attendance with a very engaged group of mayors from throughout the County.
The SSHAP group has been meeting monthly – that is, until COVID-19 hit, and we had to quickly switch our attention and work to dealing with the pandemic.
Although we aren’t out of Phase 2, yet, I’m thankful that SSHAP has recently begun meeting, again. In fact, our latest gathering was this week. Of course, the meeting had to be held via Zoom, rather than in person. While a digital meeting may be efficient, it’s awfully difficult to build trusted relationships over a computer. Our group is fortunate that we began working through this challenge face-to-face last year.
As for our work, we have invited housing experts to brief us on the barriers to housing affordability and to propose alternatives. From developers to nonprofit advocates, via stakeholder interviews and focus groups we have heard from a wide variety of viewpoints and perspectives. We’ve also done a deep dive into of our jurisdictions’ permitting guidelines and requirements.
As we consider a formal interlocal agreement among the participating cities and the County, we have a robust work plan in front of us through the end of this year and into 2021 – we know we need some early tangible successes and evidence of our collaboration.
I’m grateful for the many partners we have on the path to creating more attainable housing. Together, I’m confident we will make meaningful and much needed progress.
First published on the Pierce County website.