Packed In: Spokane’s housing supply still limited; short 25,000 housing units

SPOKANE, Wash. — Renters and buyers have been handcuffed by limited housing options for years. In the early stages of 2023, they’re still feeling that strain.

“25,000 housing units short in the city of Spokane alone,” said tom Hornel, President of the Spokane Association of Realtors. “That’s not [including] the county, that’s just the City of Spokane.”

Progress is slow, but it’s happening. This time last year, Spokane saw just 386 available houses available on the market. Last week, that number had grown to 865. Measurable progress, though nowhere near what a healthy market thrives in.

According to Hornel, Spokane has about a two month inventory of available homes on the market. An “even market’s” inventory is roughly 4-6 months.

The city is taking notice, doing what they can to alleviate the years-long pain felt by residents amidst these steep price hikes.

To incentivize the development of multi-family properties, Spokane is utilizing resources to waive property taxes on these projects for 8-12 years after completion.

The hope is that this will create a chain reaction by generating more inventory, lowering the price of homes, and providing opportunities for families to own their own property.

“The way to free up apartments, the way to free up rentals is to get people into houses,” said Hornel.

With more apartments opening up, the price of rent would ideally drop, creating more housing opportunities all across the board.

But development remains an uphill battle.

In 2022, supply chain kinks and worker shortages slowed housing construction down 29% compared to 2021. Developers are eager to take on projects, but without the workforce to do it.

“We still have a massive shortage in workers,” said Hornel.

The multi-family developments are a step in the right direction; Hormel says the construction of single-family homes alone will not alleviate the problem.

“It’s not about single family housing; it’s about duplexes, triplexes, condo units,” said Hornel. “We can’t fix this problem with single-family homes and we can’t fix this with apartment buildings. It’s that stuff in the middle that allows for homeownership where people can create wealth that matters.”

READ: Packed In: Learning the basics of buying, financing your first home