Housing in Snohomish

There are a total of 4,176 dwelling units in the city, housing the city's estimated population of 9,265.  Of those units, 64% are single-family and 36% are multi-family.  Approximately 55% of the units are owner-occupied while 45% are renter-occupied.

Snohomish's population target for the year 2035 is 12,139 people.  In order to house those 2,875 new residents an additional 1,028 dwelling units--a mix of single- and multi-family--will have to be built (this assumes no existing housing units are lost due to conversion or demolition).  The population and housing targets are a product of the Growth Monitoring Report compiled by the Snohomish County Planning & Development Services Department.  Download the 2016 Growth Monitoring Report.

Housing Supply and Demand

Meeting the demand for housing, especially the need for affordable and special needs housing, is a regional issue that cannot be solved by the City alone.  A regional approach is necessary.  The supply of housing is determined by complicated interactions between government policies and regional market forces.  While government policies and regulations play a role in determining housing supply, the role played by the regional housing market is far more impactful on the amount of new housing built.

The City's role in helping meet regional housing needs focuses on minimizing regulatory obstacles which could impede construction of new housing in general; and affordable and special needs housing in particular.  The City also has regulations that provide incentives to construct low-income housing.  In addition, the Snohomish Municipal Code requires modifications to be made in the development regulations in order to provide for reasonable accommodations for housing for disabled persons.  The Land Use Development Code also allows accessory dwelling units and manufactured housing which can be more affordable than standard dwelling units.

Comprehensive Plan - Housing Element

The City's housing goals and policies are found in the Housing Element of the City of Snohomish Comprehensive Plan.  The six goals in the element are:

Goal HO1:

[Encourage the construction of] Quality housing available to all economic sectors of the community and those with special needs.

Goal HO 2:

Achieve a diversity of housing types and densities to accommodate the spectrum of housing needs and preferences in the community, while recognizing that the primary form of housing stock will remain single-family.

Goal HO3:

Promote the design and scale of new residential development that will foster neighborhoods with stability, vitality, and character.

Goal HO4:

Ensure that adequate residential capacity is maintained to accommodate the 2035 population target for the City and its urban growth area.

Goal HO5:

Encourage home-ownership opportunities.

Goal HO6:

Maintain permit processes and other regulatory costs that achieve the intended public purpose with the least added cost to housing development.
For more information about the City's housing policies, download the Housing Element of the City of Snohomish Comprehensive Plan.

Snohomish County Housing Policies

Snohomish County also has adopted housing policies.  In collaboration with the municipalities within the county, Snohomish County has adopted 14 Countywide Planning Policies (CPPs) related to housing.  The policies complement the Growth Management Act goal to encourage a full range of housing types to meet the needs of all segments of the population and to encourage the preservation of the existing housing stock.  Every city in the county--and the County too--is obligated to plan for affordable housing consistent with the regional context determined by the CPPs.  To see all 14 housing CPPs, download the Snohomish County Countywide Housing CPPs.

One of the most significant is CPP HO-5, which requires the County, in collaboration with its municipalities, to periodically compile a "Housing Characteristics and Needs" report.  Download the most recent Housing Characteristics and Needs report.

Snohomish Affordable Housing Group (SAHG)

The Snohomish Affordable Housing Group (SAHG) is a private, non-profit grass roots organization that provides transitional and permanent housing for low income, disabled, and senior households in the City of Snohomish and along its perimeter.  It has created a unique model which draws on the collaborations of community leaders, volunteer labor and management, private donations from local citizens, and the cooperation of local governments.  Learn more information about SAHG.

City leaders and community activists recognized the need for more affordable housing in the city in the early 1990s.  SAHG was incorporated in October 1991, in order to provide affordable housing units more efficiently than the government could by avoiding the rules and restrictions that accompany government subsidies.  The group's original goal was to build 100 units without the help of government subsidies.  The first 18 units were completed in 1994.  The goal was achieved in 2009, with the construction of 21 new units bringing the SAHG total to 103.  SAHG is able to keep its rents at 60% below market rates while still covering all of its operating costs, including loan payments and reserves.

SAHG provides transitional housing for working individuals and families whose income is below 50% of the local median wage.  The objective is to provide low-cost housing to help people stabilize their lives, get past a hardship, or set a new course to move forward to a better future.  The typical tenant stays in a SAHG unit 2-3 years.

SAHG also provides permanent low-cost housing to seniors and the disabled.

Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO)

The County's housing authority, HASCO, provides rental assistance to over 5,000 Snohomish County residents.  They also offer special housing options for seniors and the disabled.

The HASCO mission statement is:
To provide housing opportunities that are as affordable as possible, that enhance the quality of life for individuals and families of limited financial resources, and that contribute to a safer and stronger community.

HASCO was created in 1971 to provide affordable housing, enhance quality of life, and build safer, stronger communities.  They have a staff of 73 guided by a six-member board of commissioners.

In addition to owning and managing over 2,100 units of subsidized and affordable housing, HASCO directs dozens of innovative programs to enhance the quality of people's lives.  They also administer over 3,400 housing vouchers.

Learn more about HASCO on their website.

Alliance for Housing Affordability (AHA)

As stated above, the solutions for meeting the demand for affordable housing are beyond the City's capacity and can only be found through a regional approach.  This is why Snohomish is a charter member of the Alliance for Housing Affordability (AHA), which was established in 2013 through an interlocal agreement with Snohomish County, 13 of the cities within the county, and the Housing Authority of Snohomish County.  The Alliance is a venue for Snohomish County jurisdictions to work together to understand local housing challenges and share resources to address these challenges.

A detailed picture of the affordable housing situation for each of the member cities, called housing profiles, has been created by AHA staff.  Download the City of Snohomish's 2014 Affordable Housing Profile.  Also, updated housing indicators data can be downloaded on the AHA website's dashboard.

AHA is guided by its joint board, which consists of representatives from every member jurisdiction, and meets quarterly.  Learn more about the Alliance on the AHA website.

Fair Housing

Fair housing laws prohibit discriminatory actions against people in the housing market because of their race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex (gender), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  The laws also prohibit discrimination against families with children, veterans, or members of the military.

For more information about fair housing laws, visit Snohomish County's fair housing website.  On the website are links to information about "Fair Housing for Renters and Homeowners" and "Fair Housing for Landlords and Housing Providers".  There is also a link to a recent study analyzing existing impediments to fair housing choice.  You can access those links directly by clinking below.