Packed In: ‘I’d love to stay’: Under-building homes leads to long-time families leaving Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — Homes can’t get built fast enough in the Inland Northwest. Spokane is now the 45th ranked city for affordable entry level homes, according to the AEI Carpenter Index.

From 2010-2017, the city snagged the top spot. As Spokane grows, homeownership is becoming less attainable for more people.

“I love Spokane,” said Melanie Hernandez. “It just feels like we’re all getting priced out.”

Hernandez has lived in Spokane for 10 years. She used to own a home but rents now. She says owning wouldn’t be possible in this market anymore, so she’s taking drastic measures. Next month, she leaves for the East Coast and more space for her family. It wasn’t an easy choice but one she felt was necessary.

“It’s kind of disheartening. I like it here,” she said. “I’d love to stay.”

Hernandez isn’t alone. It’s a simple supply and demand issue, according to Greg Lane, the Executive Vice President for the Building Industry Association of Washington. He says growth management policies and regulations have hindered building from happening fast enough. It took a while to get here, and it won’t be easy to get out.

“It has been years in the making,” he said.

This is burdening more people who are stuck renting for longer and can’t take that next step.

“For first time home buyers, for folks that are middle income, even upper-middle income — they cannot afford to get a home,” Lane said. “More and more people are being trapped into renting much longer into their life.”

He says things have to change for the market to see some relief. He’s encouraging elected officials to reconsider adjusting zoning laws, freeing up land availability, speeding up the permitting process and reducing new construction fees.

The city is working on the problem. In July, they adopted a Housing Action Plan to find solutions. The plan outlines steps to increase supply, preserve affordability and enhance access to ownership.

More homes are desperately needed, so more people who call the city home can stay.

“It’s just so unfair when you’re trying your hardest to purchase a home and you cannot because you can’t compete,” Hernandez said.

READ: Packed In: City Council approves new version of Housing Action Plan 

RELATED: Packed In: Spokane Valley needs more resources to keep up with road repair 

RELATED: Packed In: What concerns do you have about growth in the Inland Northwest?