Submitted by Thurston County
On January 25, 2022, in a 2-1 vote, the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) approved a one-tenth of one percent sales tax increase for affordable housing and related services to include the acquisition and construction of affordable housing and facilities. The approved ordinance applies to all sales and use taxes in Thurston County, including a tax credit for the Cities of Olympia and Tenino, which approved a similar tax. This is expected to generate approximately $4.5-5 million in revenue and, when combined with the City of Olympia’s revenue, will result in nearly $7 million per year in local funds for affordable regional housing
The intent of the funds is to create affordable housing for county residents whose income is 60 percent of or below Area Median Income (AMI). The legislation requires a minimum of 60 percent of the fund collected be used to:
- Construct or acquire affordable housing,
- Construct or acquire mental and behavioral health-related facilities,
- Acquire land for these purposes, or
- Fund the operations and maintenance costs of new units of affordable housing and facilities where housing-related programs are provided.
The BoCC will administer the funds while the Regional Housing Council (RHC) will make funding recommendations to the BoCC on eligible projects and activities to be supported with revenue. The approved ordinance calls for the creation of a Community Advisory Subcommittee to the RHC comprised of community member representing all areas of Thurston County and RHC jurisdictional staff to make recommendations to the RHC.
“We are excited to be able to use the money generated from this action address a real need here in Thurston County,” said Commission Chair and Vice-Chair of the RHC, Carolina Mejia. “This tax is going to help a lot of the most vulnerable people in our community, including many children, and I know the county and the RHC are ready to get moving on projects to address the growing need.”
The ordinance also calls for the creation of an Interlocal Agreement with the City of Olympia to outline roles, responsibilities, administration, and other requirements related to combining the Affordable Housing Sales and Use Tax funds.
The new tax will go into effect five days after the publication of this legislation in the official newspaper.
For more information about homelessness in Thurston County, visit the Thurston County website.